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Govt execs face charges for marine plastic pollution

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VARIOUS stakeholders led by ocean conservation advocacy nongovernment organization Oceana are taking the first step in the legal arena to press concerned government agencies, particularly the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), to implement Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and address the worsening marine plastic pollution.

In a statement, Oceana said notices to sue were served to the NSWMC through Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and heads of national agencies which include Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark S. Villar, and Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benjamin Abalos Jr., among others.

Serving the notices to sue is the first step to compel the NSWMC—composed of various government agencies—through their officials to act  to counter what complainants deem as “apathy to the heavy burden of mounting plastic pollution” inundating the country’s waters, land and air.

Oceana Vice President Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos said: “We can no longer bear the inaction of the NSWMC which has failed to implement its mandated task to prepare a list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging (NEAPP). Their lack of concern for 20 long years is far too deplorable and inexcusable. The groups believe it was time to interpose and take the necessary action on this issue.”

The Philippines produced 2.7 million metric tons of plastic waste—more than half a million metric tons of which were leaked to the ocean, a study by Ocean Conservancy in 2015 revealed.

The Waste Assessment Brand Audit 2019 report of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), meanwhile, showed that the country produced daily 164 million pieces of sachets, 48 million shopping bags, 45.2 million pieces of labo bags.

As provided in Republic Act 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, the NSWMC is mandated to prepare a list of Non-Environmentally Acceptable Products and Packaging  (NEAPP) within a year after the law’s effectivity and updates every year thereafter.

The NSWMC is composed of 14 national government agencies and private sector representatives.

The manufacture, distribution or use of non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials and the importation of consumer products packaged in non-environmentally acceptable materials are prohibited under Section 48 of RA 9003.

RA 9003, signed on June 26, 2001, was enacted to promote the adoption of a systematic, comprehensive, and ecological solid waste management program to ensure the protection of public health and development.

The groups’ move comes on the heels of a resolution filed by House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda on June 2 to investigate and audit the NSWMC.

In the resolution, Legarda—who was one of the principal authors of RA 9003—pointed out that “despite these legal mandates and budgetary support is given in 2016 and 2017 amounting to P1.3 billion, the commission has unjustifiably failed to act on its ministerial function of preparing the list of NEAPP.”

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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