Environmentalists sue gov’t for ‘inaction’ on plastic pollution

PHILSTAR

By Angelica Y. Yang, Reporter

MORE THAN 50 petitioners from the youth, fisherfolk and waste management sectors have filed a lawsuit against government officials for their alleged inaction on releasing the list of non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAP).

This comes four months after the groups said they intend to press charges against the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) and other government agencies for taking so long in preparing the list of products and packaging considered harmful to the environment.

Oceana said the petitioners filed the case with the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning.

“Plastic not only affects our environment but results in a whole gamut of concerns that will ultimately threaten our existence as inhabitants of this planet,” Oceana Vice President Gloria Estenzo Ramos said in a statement.

“It puts our food security, livelihood and health on the line. And what is so frustrating is the fact that these problems could have been avoided had the NSWMC acted on its mandate,” she said.

Under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003, the NSWMC is required to prepare a list of non-environmentally acceptable materials within a year of the law’s implementation, and provide updates every year.

“Through their refusal, the respondents allowed the unabated emission of millions of tons of plastic waste into every nook and cranny of the Philippine archipelago. This in turn exposed an uncountable number of humans and wildlife to hazards that will last for up to thousands of years in the environment,” the petitioners said in their lawsuit.

Respondents in the case include the NSWMC and its members: Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu; Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez; Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. dela Pena; Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III; Public Works Secretary Mark S. Villar, who recently resigned as he is running for the Senate in the May 2022 elections; Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar; and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benjamin de Castro Abalos, Jr.; among others.

Earlier this year, a study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science showed that 28% of the rivers responsible for global plastic pollution are in the Philippines, with Pasig River as the “world’s most polluting river when it comes to plastic waste.”

It added that Pasig River accounted for 63,000 tons of plastic entering oceans from rivers every year.

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