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LNF proposes ban on plastic bags and polystyrene packaging in the City of Manila

LNF proposes ban on plastic bags and polystyrene packaging in the City of Manila

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Published by Anna Oposa

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Published by: Anna Oposa on Oct 04, 2011
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10/04/2011

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
THE LAW OF NATURE FOUNDATION
 
6-J Westgate Tower, Investment Drive, Madrigal Business ParkAlabang, Muntinlupa City, Philippines 1780http://thelawofnature.ph(+632) 403-7740
 4 October 2011
Hon. Alfredo S. Lim
MayorCity of ManilaRepublic of the Philippines
RE: WASTE MANAGEMENT IN THE CITY OF MANILA
Dear
Hon. Lim
:On behalf of international environmentaladvocates and concerned citizens of thePhilippines, I am writing because of apicture
 
taken by Mr. Carlos Celdran afterthe tropical storm
Pedring 
(see right). Thecaption on the tour guide
ʼ
s Facebookpage says that a “tide blew open a gateon Roxas Boulevard - rammed open by a[S]tyrofoam & plastic filled wave.” In thislight, we are proposing an ordinanceentitled, “AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITINGTHE USE OF PLASTIC BAGS ON DRYGOODS, REGULATING ITS USE ONWET GOODS AND PROHIBITING THEUSE OF POLYSTYRENE IN THE CITYOF MANILA AND PRESCRIBING THEPENALTIES THEREOF.”This picture strongly suggests that we have not learned from the destruction brought about by
Milenyo 
(2006) and
Ondoy 
(2009). Flooding in Manila is not just because of climate change, butalso because of the lack of waste management. A 2005 study by the Asian Development Bankshows that Metro Manila collects 7,500 tons of garbage daily from its more than 12 millionresidents. Only about 70 percent of this 7,500 tons is taken to landfills; the rest are solid waste“that clogs the network of drainage canals, poses a considerable risk to health, and greatlyincreases the likelihood of flood.” The study also states that less than 10 percent of the metro
ʼ
sgarbage is recycled while much of the waste is either dumped illegally on private land, in rivers,or straight into Manila Bay.
1
 

*
The Law of Nature is the international name of The
Batas Kalikasan 
Foundation, a duly registered non-profit organization to advanceEnvironmental Law education, compliance and enforcement. (SEC Reg. No. A200209645, June 14, 2002).
1
Barlaan, Allan and Cardiente, Karl Allan, “So we would all be informed: Dissecting flood problem in Metro Manila,” Manila Standard Today.8 August 2011. URL Available: http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideOpinion.htm?f=2011/august/8/feature1.isx&d=2011/august/8
Used with permission from Mr. Celdran 
 
 
2
Moreover, a study done the following year by EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace shows that
synthetic plastic materials constitute 76 percent of the floating trash items in Manila Bay,with plastic bags comprising 51 percent;
sachets and junk food wrappers, 19 percent;
Styrofoam containers, five percent;
and hard plastics, one percent. Another study publishedin 2009 by the US-based Ocean Conservancy reveals that 679,957 of over 1.2 million pieces ofmarine litter of various types that were gathered in seaside areas during the 2008 InternationalCoastal Clean Up Day in the country were plastic bags.
2
 Manila
ʼ
s poor waste management has beengiven critical attention by international media.An article written published in
Time 
magazinesays, “As Ketsana (Ondoy) rained down uponManila, sewers that were clogged up byplastic bags and other refuse led to roadsbecoming rivers and gardens lagoons.”
3
 Another feature on
The Guardian 
shows aphoto of “a trash-covered creek in Manila,Philippines, where slums often adjoin rubbishdumps.”
4
(see right)I believe we can agree that this is not how weFilipinos would want our Manila to be knownand recognized for.If and when the city of Manila takes heed of this grave environmental concern and adapts anordinance banning plastic and polystyrene, it would send an incredibly powerful message to theentire nation and the rest of the world—that Manila, our beloved Manila, will no longer be a citythat manages disasters and instead be one that
prevents 
it.Other local government units show that with strong political will and a massive informationcampaign, a ban on plastic bags and polystyrene packaging can be done. The city of Los Bañoswas the trailblazer in 2008 when Municipal Ordinance 2008-752 entitled “An Ordinance
Prohibiting the Use of Plastic Bags on Dry Goods and Regulating Its Utilization on Wet Goodsand Prohibiting the Use of Styrofoam in the Municipality of Los Baños and Prescribing PenaltiesThereof”
was passed. Muntinlupa, under the visionary leadership of Mayor Aldrin San Pedro,also passed City Ordinance 2010-109 entitled, “An Ordinance Prohibiting the Useof Plastic Bags on Dry Goods, Regulating its Utilization on Wet Goods and Prohibiting the Useof Styrofoam/Styrophor in the City of Muntinlupa.”However, Sir, this proposed ban should just be part of the grander scheme of things we callecological solid waste management. The City of Manila does not appear to be in compliancewith the intent and objectives of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (Republic Act9003). It mandates, among others, that there must be mandatory segregation of wastes atsource
5
and that waste that is not properly separated must not be collected.
6
While there has

2
De Vera, Ellalyn B., “Stop dumping plastics in canals- EcoWaste,” Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation. 30 May 2010. URL Available:http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/259744/stop-disposal-plastic-bags-along-waterways-environmentalists-urge
3
Tharoor, Ishaan, “The Manila Floods: Why Wasn
ʼ
t the City Prepared?”, Time Magazine. 29 September 2011. URL Available:http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1926646,00.html#ixzz1ZFTLVh5F
4
“World
ʼ
s poor overwhelmed by rubbish,” The Guardian. 5 June 2009. URL Available:http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2009/jun/05/waste-world-environment-day?picture=348339010
5
RA 9003, Art. II, Sec. 2
 
Photo by Francis R. Malasig/EPA
 
 
3
been some effort to implement the provisions of the law, these still fall short of what ismandated. And this proposed ban, if passed, should only be a step towards that. The city ofManila, as the country
ʼ
s capital, should take the lead in environmental compliance.We also would like to remind you that “Linisin at Ikarangal ang Maynila” is the name of yourcampaign to restore the rule of law in the City of Manila, and that “Environmental Protection andConservation” is included in your 11-Point Agenda.
7
 We hope that this letter will merit your kind consideration. After all, Sir, the most basic elementof community building and of nation building is discipline, and the most basic form of disciplineis cleanliness of self and of surrounding.Thank you in anticipation of your kind and expeditious action on the matter.
8
We earnestly lookforward to your reply as we trust that this letter finds you in good health and spirits.Yours truly,Anna R. OposaOfficer-in-ChargeEnvironmental Policy and Law Complianceannaoposa@thelawofnature.phCopy furnished:
Hon. Nereus Acosta Hon. Mary Ann Lucille Sering
Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection Vice-Chair
 
Office of the President Climate Change Commission
Hon. Ramon Paje Mr. Bert Guevara
Secretary PresidentDepartment of Environment and Natural Resources Earth Day Network Philippines
Ms. Li-Ann de Leon Mr. Roy Alvarez
Executive Director PresidentLeague of Municipalities of the Philippines EcoWaste Coalition
Hon. Fernando Tolentino
ChairMetro Manila Development Authority
Hon. Emy Aguinaldo
Executive DirectorNational Solid Waste Management Commission

6
RA 9003, Chapt. VI, Sec. 48
7
“The 11-Point Agenda.” The City of Manila. URL Available: http://www.manila.gov.ph/11pointagenda.htm
8
Under the recently-enacted Republic Act 9485, also known as the Anti-Red Tape Law, public officials are given 10 days within which toreply and report on the actions taken. Please see also Republic Act 6713, Republic Act 3019, and other pertinent laws on PublicAccountability.

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