Baguio City bans sale of ‘harmful’ wet wipes brands

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2020   •   2454

MANILA, Philippines – The city government of Baguio has banned the sale of wet wipes and other similar products containing harmful ingredients in all local establishments.

This was after the city council approved on third and final reading an ordinance penned by Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan, and signed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong on January 28.

The brands of wet wipes covered by the ban are the following: Dong Bang, Dong Bang Yao Baby Tender, Family Treasure Baby Tender, Sky Fire Baby Tender, Giggley Baby Wipes, and Super Soft Skin Care Wet Towel.

In a Facebook post, the city council said the enumerated brands of wet wipes and other similar products were allegedly found to contain harmful chemical compounds such as methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MIT), and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC).

The city council said that during the public consultation in November 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health (DOH) recommended the prohibition of the said products.

The ordinance also cited the environmental group, EcoWaste Coalition’s warning on the presence of harmful chemical compounds in wet wipes which may trigger skin allergies and may cause contact dermatitis.

“Some of these baby wipes/products were found to be sold at the city’s grocery stores, black market, supermarkets, and convenience stores; and the continued sale of these products supposedly for hygiene is disturbing,” the ordinance read.

Pursuant to the local policy, the City Health Services Office (CHSO), in coordination with the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) and the barangay officials, is authorized to conduct inspection in establishments and confiscate the prohibited products followed by an inventory on the confiscated items identifying the name of the establishment, its location, the type and number of the confiscated items, and the mode of disposal conducted.

Violators will be fined with P1, 000.00 for the first offense (immediate closure of business for those without business permits); P3, 000.00 for the second offense (closure of business for those without business permits until compliance); and P5, 000.00 and non-renewal of business permit for the third offense.

Individuals or business establishments that will surrender banned products will not be penalized, the city council said.

Hazard pay for garbage collectors urged amid COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   April 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – While everyone is advised to wash hands regularly, perhaps it’s a difficult case for garbage collectors.

Like healthcare workers, household and medical waste collectors are among the frontliners whose job is essential especially during this time when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is in effect due to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This prompted the environmental group EcoWaste Coalition to appeal to the national government to provide garbage collectors the hazard pay they deserve for being exposed to COVID-19 as they are handling potentially dangerous or infectious waste.

EcoWaste Coalition President Eileen Sison, in a letter addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte, argued that “the lack of clear-cut regulations for the disposal of waste from households and the increase of infectious waste from healthcare facilities justify the provision of hazard pay for garbage collectors.”

“We believe that garbage collectors are entitled to hazard pay—regardless of their employment status—due to the risk they face in the performance of essential waste management services, which can be considered hazardous, especially under the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the coronavirus outbreak,” Sison said arguing that garbage collectors also deserve cash compensation like all frontliners from the medical field.

“Without their indispensable service, we may be faced with even more environmental and health hazards from uncollected waste,” she added.

In March, President Duterte signed Administrative Order 26 authorizing the grant of hazard pay to government personnel who physically report for work during the period of implementation of an enhanced community quarantine relative to the COVID-19 outbreak

But the EcoWaste Coalition said the same privilege may not apply to most garbage collectors as they are hired only by waste management agencies that are usually contracted by local government units (LGUs).

Thus, it urged the concerned government agencies like the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Budget Management (DBM) “to use moral suasion to strongly encourage employers of garbage collectors” to grant them daily hazard pay even at least during the community quarantine period.

The group appealed to the national government “to take on such responsibility with urgency as a humanitarian gesture in these most trying times” in case some waste management companies and LGUs will be financially constrained to provide the hazard pay.

On Tuesday (April 7), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) confirmed that President Duterte approved the extension of the ECQ for two more weeks or until the end of the month, as COVID-19 cases in the country rapidly increased.

Baguio LGU mulls raps vs judge who allegedly interfered in drunk taxi driver’s arrest

Robie de Guzman   •   January 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The city government of Baguio on Friday said it is mulling over the possibility of filing administrative charges against a local judge who allegedly interfered in the arrest of a drunk taxi driver for purportedly attacking a police officer.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said they are studying lodging complaints against the judge, identified as Judge Roberto Mabalot of the Municipal Trial Court, Benguet Branch 1.

Magalong said a report forwarded to him by the Baguio City Police showed that Mabalot allegedly intimidated and shouted at police officers on duty to secure the immediate release of the taxi driver, identified as Jone Buclay.

“According sa report na binigay sa akin ng ating City Director na si Col. Allen Co, talagang nakialam si Judge Mabalot, in fact he acted like a private lawyer,” he said.

“The way it was explained to me, very intimidating siya and outright nailabas niya agad ung lasing na driver at naiparelease pa niya yung taxi,” he added.

On Tuesday, December 31, 2019, an internet user posted a dashcam video showing a police officer, identified as Patrolman Julius Walang designated at the Baguio City Traffic Enforcement Unit, almost run over as he tried to stop a cab driver who committed a traffic violation.

Walang accosted the cabbie and tried to issue a citation ticket for causing traffic along Abanao Street in Baguio City. But instead of stopping, the taxi moved towards the police officer who had to cling onto the cab’s hood to prevent him from fleeing.

Buclay was later on brought to the police station and determined to be under the influence of alcohol.

During Buclay’s detention, police officers on duty claimed that Judge Mabalot suddenly entered the police station and scolded them for detaining the cab driver for a traffic violation that only carries a fine as penalty.

A CCTV footage also captured Judge Mabalot arriving at the police station around 9:25 in the morning and exiting with the taxi driver in tow several minutes later.

“He was lawyering for the accused and, of course, naintimidate po ung ating mga kapulisan doon and from his own words sabi niya ay ‘fine’ lang kasi ang aanuhin,” Baguio City Police director Col. Allen Rae Co said.

“Ipinakita po ng ating kapulisan sa kanya yung positive result po nung alcohol breath test at umamin po ung tao (taxi driver) mismo na nakainom siya,” he added.

It was later learned that Buclay works for a taxi company allegedly operated by a relative of Judge Mabalot.

In a message to Magalong, the judge insists that he did not interfere with the case, and that he only acted on a request he received to check up on the taxi driver for an alleged violation of reckless driving.

“I declare that I did not at all interfere. The police will confirm this fact,” he said, adding that he only told cops that they cannot detain the driver as the penalty for reckless driving is only a fine.

He, however, did not state in his message on whether he was aware that the taxi driver had tried to run over a traffic law enforcer.

The Supreme Court’s Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), which supervises all judges and court personnel in the country, earlier said it is now checking the case.

“We would like to get all available information before we require the concerned judge to comment,” Supreme Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said.

Police said it will file multiple complaints against the taxi driver, including direct assault upon an agent of authority, resisting arrest and attempted homicide. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Grace Doctolero)

EcoWaste urges youth not to light firecrackers for safe, non-toxic new year

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 12, 2019

Environmental group, EcoWaste Coalition urged the youth not to light any firecrackers and fireworks for a safe and non-toxic new year.

In a statement released on Thursday (December 12), the eco-group said they launched ‘Iwas Paputoxic’ to encourage families and communities to turn away from the dangerous and polluting tradition of detonating firecrackers and fireworks to welcome the New Year.

“The misuse of firecrackers and fireworks can cause blast injuries or burns that may require amputation, eye damage that may lead to blindness, tetanus, poisoning and even death with children as the most affected” Thony Dizon said, the Chemical Safety Campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition.

The EcoWaste Coalition further urged the public not to burn used tires on New Year’s eve which can generate loads of pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and other toxic chemicals that are harmful to a person’s health and to the environment.—AAC

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