The pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition calls on the country’s top legislators to safeguard public health and the environment by keeping intact the Clean Air and Solid Waste Management laws, particularly the ban on waste incineration, as the Philippines marks the 35th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

“We are honoring the Filipino people whose bravery and dedication toppled the oppressive leadership of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos Sr.  After 35 years of the EDSA revolution, our communities and environment are again threatened by the unjust political and social structures that favor transnational corporations and a few individuals,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.

From the martial law period until now, the Philippines still counts as one of the deadliest countries in Asia for land and environmental defenders especially when it comes to fighting for the rights of nature against corporations who pollute the environment.

According to Lucero, one of the recent injustices against nature was the push by the House of Representatives in promoting incineration under the guise of waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities, and the vicious attempt to repeal specific provisions in the Clean Air Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and other relevant laws. 

Last year, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the declaration of a climate emergency by the House of Representatives, several environmental groups, including the EcoWaste Coalition, made the urgent call for policies in mitigating the waste and climate crisis. The declaration urged local governments and government bodies to adopt policies to mitigate climate change.

The groups also asked the government to disallow the funding of dirty energy projects by corporations that greatly contribute to environmental crises and disasters which endanger the health of citizens due to the release of poisonous chemicals such as dioxins and furans. 

“This year, as the country continues to battle COVID-19, it is also of utmost importance to use environmentally safe measures in dealing with waste to protect public health and the environment which is obviously not through waste-to-energy incineration,” added Lucero.

“Moreover as we commemorate the EDSA Revolution, we also call on the members of the Senate to set a high moral leadership and put into action the virtues of democracy and love for our country. We need to stop sacrificing our communities and it will start by scrapping the Waste-to-Energy Bill,” further added Lucero. 

According to a factsheet by GAIA Asia Pacific, while marketed in the guise of advancing renewable energy, WTE incineration is not an environmentally sustainable form of energy source and waste management solution. It is a known fact that when the burning of waste happens, toxic substances are released which undeniably compromise the health and safety of individuals, the factsheet said.

“It is really very important in calling on the government to scrap this proposal on waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration and to show its sincerity for the sake of the health and well-being of the people. Our lawmakers should instead uphold our existing environmental laws and approve the green laws pending in the 18th Congress, including the passage of the  National Single-Use Plastics Ban as well as ordinances that would hold culprits accountable of polluting practices,” Lucero ended.