Philippines bans single-use plastics in all government offices

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2020   •   684

MANILA, Philippines – Single-use plastics will now be banned in all government offices in the country, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In a statement issued Monday, the DENR said the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) has approved Resolution No. 1363, series of 2020, banning “unnecessary” single-use plastics.

It covers national government agencies, local government units, and all other government controlled-offices.

The resolution directs the DENR to “prepare and implement” the ban on single-use plastic products, including cups less than 0.2 millimeter in thickness, drinking straws, coffee stirrers, spoons, forks, and knives.

The ban also covers “labo” or thin and translucent plastic bags, and thin-filmed sando bags lower than 15 microns.

“The NSWMC resolution is a major step to curb the use of single-use plastic items that pollute our waterways, kill marine life and contribute to our country’s increasing solid waste,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who chairs the NSWMC, said.

The DENR will come up with specific guidelines for the implementation of the plastics ban, which forms part of the government’s “solid waste avoidance and minimization strategy,” according to Cimatu.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGUs Concerns Benny Antiporda, meanwhile, defended the NSWMC for initially including only eight single-use plastic items in the ban.

“It was the decision of the NSWMC to come up with a balanced judgment on the use of single-use plastics by taking into consideration that we can only ban those that have available alternatives,” said Antiporda, who is also the alternate NSWMC chair.

He cited Section 29 of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which provides that “‘non-environmentally acceptable products shall not be prohibited unless the [NSWMC] first finds that there are alternatives which are available to consumers at no more than 10 percent greater cost than the disposable product.”

The NSWMC is an inter-agency body under the Office of the President mandated to oversee the implementation of solid waste management plans and prescribe policies to achieve the law’s objectives.

It is composed of the DENR, the Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Science and Technology, and Department of Trade and Industry.

Its members also include the League of Cities of the Philippines, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine Information Agency, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and representatives from the recycling and manufacturing/packaging sectors.

Metro Manila residents enjoy change in environment, lifestyle under ECQ

Maris Federez   •   March 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Residents in the National Capital Region (NCR) have noticed a significant improvement in the quality of the air in the metropolis.

The smoke being emitted by factories and transport vehicles and the traffic congestion that have become the norm in the lives of Metro Manila residents have lessened since the Luzon region was placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The said measure was instituted to address the threats of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that continues to spread in Metro Manila and several parts of Luzon.

The ECQ has also changed the lifestyle of Metro Manila residents, as some have learned the benefits of walking to their destinations and buying only the essential things for themselves and their families.

The suspension of all types of public transportation has paved the way for the air to clear and for the traffic to decongest.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the air quality or particulate matter 10 has significantly changed.

“Ngayon kung titingnan natin nag a-average tayo from good to fair so napakaganda, nakapakaganda nung air quality natin ngayon,” said DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda.

PM10 or the “inhalable particles”, are particles equal to or smaller than 10 microns (PM10) that can reach the throat and the lungs.

A UNTV Drone shot presented a smog-free skyline of Manila and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig as compared to the previous pollution that was once visible in the said places.

The environment department believes that the suspension of public transportation and the reduced number of private vehicles traveling have done the environment a big favor.

“Visually kita natin talagang ang laki mula sa umaga wala yung smog na nakikita natin na akala mo pa ay ma-fog yung buong NCR pero yun pala ay polusyon yun,” Antiporda added.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has also observed that crime and accidents have considerably decreased in Metro Manila and in Region 3 after the enhanced community quarantine was implemented in the entire Luzon.

According to PNP spokesperson, PBGen. Bernard Banac, the crime rate in Luzon had gone down by 80 percent.

“In fact bumaba po ng almost eighty percent ang crime rate hindi lamang dito sa kalakhang Maynila maging sa region at iba pang dako ng Luzon,” Banac said.

Banac added that the latest PNP record shows that road accidents since the ECQ was put in place until March 24 totaled to only 81, a considerably low number compared to the average 50 per day on ordinary days. — (with details from Dante Amento) /mbmf

DENR removes, seizes barbed wire in reforestation site in Masungi

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 3, 2020

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) removed and seized the barbed wires hammered into Sacking Trees or Tibig at the reforestation site in Masungi, Rizal.

READ: Geopark seeks gov’t help to protect reforestation project from quarrying

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu vowed to close down the quarry involved and cancel the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA)  Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) issued in the protected area and reforestation site.

Meanwhile, the Masungi Georeserve expressed their gratitude to those who gave their support and prompted the authorities to take action on the incident.

“In the next few days, let’s continue to be vigilant and closely follow and support the next steps being taken by authorities,” according to the geopark’s Facebook post.—AAC

Geopark seeks gov’t help to protect reforestation project from quarrying

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 3, 2020

Masungi Georeserve

“Our trees are bleeding.”

This is according to a post of the Masungi Georeserve on February 26. Their Facebook post showed barbed wires driven into trees in one of the reforestation site in Masungi.

The geopark, located in the Rizal province, reiterated that the area is a geohazard zone as stated by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

“It is also part of a larger protected area—the Upper Marikina River Protected Landscape—where quarrying and other extractive activities are banned,” their post reads.

The Masungi Georeserve is now waiting for the official order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to protect its reforestation project from quarrying.

The geopark wants the strict implementation of the Department Order 1993-33 which prohibits extractive industries, particularly mining and quarrying, in Masungi and its vicinity.

A petition has also been put up to save the Masungi Georeserve from quarrying.

“We are hopeful that the Central Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will finally release an official order on the quarry, and implement the laws that protect Masungi and the wildlife that call it home,” according to a recent post of Masungi Georeserve.—AAC

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