Commission, government agencies and officials to be sued for failure to stop marine plastic pollution
MANILA – Oceana, a marine conservation group, citizens and other stakeholders are set to sue the National Solid Waste Management Commission and other concerned officials for them to implement Republic Act 9003 to stem the growing problem of marine plastic pollution, particularly single-use plastic.
Notices to sue have been delivered to the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), through Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and other department secretaries including Secretaries Fortunato dela Peña of DOST, Francisco T. Duque III of DOH, Mark A. Villar of the DPWH, William D. Dar of DA, and MMDA Chairperson Benjamin Abalos, Jr.
Province-based stakeholders opted to take the first legal step to force the Commission and the government agencies’ officials for their “apathy to the heavy burden of mounting plastic pollution” that has affected the country’s waters, land and air.
Oceana Vice President Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos said they could no longer take 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,” she said.
In a statement, Oceana said a study conducted by Ocean Conservancy in 2016, the Philippines produced 2.7 million metric tons of plastic wastes, more than half a million metric tons of which were leaked to the ocean. Meanwhile, the Waste Assessment Brand Audit 2019 report of the Global Alliance for Incinerators Alternatives (GAIA) showed that the country produced daily 164 million pieces of sachets, 48 million shopping bags, 45.2 million pieces of "labo” bags.
According to the provisions of Republic Act 9003 entitled Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, the NSWMC is delegated to prepare a list of NEAPP within a year after the law’s effectivity and updates every year thereafter. The Commission has 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 Republic Act 9003, which was signed on June 26,2001. It was enacted to promote the adoption of a systematic, comprehensive, and ecological solid waste management program ensure the protection of public health and development. (Melo M. Acuña)