Duterte eyes ban on use of plastic

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2019   •   451

Plastic along coastline in Cap-Haitien, Haiti | REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to ban the use of plastics in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president mentioned the idea during a discussion on climate change in a Cabinet meeting last Wednesday.

“The president floated the idea to ban the use of plastics, which according to him would require legislative action,” Panelo told reporters but said he is not sure if Duterte was referring to single-use plastics.

There are bills filed in Congress seeking to ban the use of single-use plastics that are currently pending at a committee level.

These measures seek to prohibit food establishments, stores, and markets from issuing single-use plastics, and task manufacturers to control the circulation and disposal of these materials. It also encourages consumers to instead use reusable or other alternative materials.

The Philippines has been listed in a 2015 report as one of the biggest sources of plastic leaking into the oceans, after China and Indonesia.

A recent study by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) revealed that Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags and 45 million thin film bags daily.

The report called “Plastics exposed: How waste assessments and brand audits are helping Philippine cities fight plastic pollution,” used data from household waste assessments and brand audits conducted by Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) in six cities and seven municipalities across the country in the past five years.

The organization extrapolated the data to calculate daily and yearly plastic usage throughout the country in order to provide new quantitative evidence about plastic pollution in the Philippines.

GAIA said that findings in the report show how cities and municipalities in the Philippines are struggling against plastic residuals despite efforts of many localities to institute Zero Waste programs.

With the projected increase in plastic production worldwide, including in the Philippines, the group said that national governments, as well as local government authorities need robust data and effective strategies to address the looming plastic pollution crisis.

It also called on manufacturers to regulate, and stop producing, single-use plastics.

“We would appreciate kung ang Pangulo will tell Congress na iprioritize nga itong bill on single-use plastic,” Beau Baconguis, an Asia Pacific Plastics Campaigner of GAIA said.

“Dapat hindi lang tignan as a waste disposal issue at waste management issue pero titingnan ang buong life cycle ng plastic at buong problemang kaakibat ng different stages ng production ng plastic,” Baconguis added.

The House of Representatives, for its part, assured it will continue to conduct inquiries on proposals to ban the use of plastics in the country.

“There will be a hearing before the committee level, all the stakeholders shall be heard, and ultimately we shall decide the course,” Cavite Fourth District Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, said.

“The decision of the President will carry much weight in so far as the action of the House of representatives is concerned,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Locusts swarm across parts of India, attacking agricultural lands

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Huge swarms of locusts took over the skies of Northern and Central India on Monday (May 25) and Sunday (May 24), affecting agricultural lands.

The pests were mostly seen across large states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

On Sunday, actions were taken in the city of Mandsaur, in central India, to contain the swarm by spraying pesticides.

One of the deadliest pests for farms produce, locusts are known to destroy crops and vegetables, and whatever they find in their way, in search of food.

Animals also get affected by eating the same leaves as the locusts and can suffer from diarrhoea.

Locust swarms are not new in East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. But climate scientists say erratic weather linked to climate change has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.

If allowed to breed unchecked in favourable conditions, locusts can form huge swarms that can strip trees and crops over vast areas. (Reuters)

(Production: ANI, Hanna Rantala, Gabriela Boccaccio)

Duterte fires OCD Deputy Administrator Kristoffer James Purisima

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed Kristoffer James Purisima as deputy administrator assistant secretary of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, the President decided to remove Purisima from office due to “loss of trust and confidence.”

Roque could not tell, however, under what circumstance prompted the President to fire Purisima.

Wala na po akong ibang impormasyon (I don’t have additional information) other than he was terminated due to loss of trust and confidence,” Roque confirmed.

The OCD is the government’s main unit responsible for disaster preparedness and response in times of calamity.

Prior to his position in OCD, Purisima served as spokesperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte warns of return to strict quarantine restrictions if COVID-19 crisis worsens

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminds the public to heed government protocols for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis even after community quarantine has been relaxed. 

On May 16, Metro Manila shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from enhanced community quarantine to help revive the Philippines’ crippled economy. 

But President Duterte stressed that such relaxation in restrictions doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19 and warned that the government might again tighten restrictions if situations get worse. 

“Remember this, the loosening of the restrictions does not mean [we’re COVID-free],” he said. 

“If the contamination will be as fast as before, and it will continue to infect yung nakalabas na (people who are allowed to go out), then we’ll have to just go back to original program,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied allegations that the government is not ready or has no policy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing. 

Roque stressed that the government in fact is now preparing to hit the target of 30,000 a day testing capacity by the end of May. 

“From the very beginning, we have had a systematic targeted testing at sa tingin po natin ang sinusunod natin ay benchmark recognized internationally specifically by the WHO,” the Palace Spokesperson said in defense against against critics who are questioning the government’s advice of letting private companies shoulder COVID-19 testing for their respective workers who are returning to work. 

Roque added that the government is targeting to test around 1.5% to 2% of the more than 100 million Filipinos for COVID-19 infection and clarified on what is referred to as ‘mass testing.’

“Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing,” he said. 

READ: Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na ang lahat ng mga mamamayan nito (ay tine-test) kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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