EcoWaste Coalition calls out online sellers of mercury-laced skin whiteners

Maris Federez   •   April 12, 2019   •   3100

EcoWaste Coalition has lashed out on third party sellers of mercury-laced skin lightening cosmetics in popular e-commerce sites.

The environmental watchdog’s chemical safety campaigner, Thony Dizon, said these popular e-commerce platforms must not allow their sites to be used in the unethical and unlawful trade of hazardous cosmetics.

“We find the unabated sale of dangerous skin whitening products in online shopping sites deeply disturbing and unacceptable,” said Dizon, adding that exposing customers to mercury will put their health and the environment at risk.

Dizon appealed to the said e-commerce platforms to monitor the products being sold by third party merchants as the government formulate policies that will regulate the online selling business.

The coalition, specifically called on the top three e-commerce sites, Lazada, Shopee, and eBay to support the Minamata Convention on mercury by taking down third-party ads of mercury-laden cosmetics.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds as a result of human activities or productions. 

The treaty aims at globally phasing out, among others, skin whitening cosmetics such as creams, lotions, and soaps with mercury above one part per million (ppm) by 2020. 

EcoWaste studies showed that that Ailke Perfect Salvation, Angel Placenta, Collagen Plus Vit E, Erna, Goree, and Jiaoli are among those already banned by the FDA for containing mercury above the trace amount limit of 1 ppm.

In accordance with the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, mercury is not allowed as ingredient in cosmetic product formulations.

Mercury in skin-whitening products inhibits the production of melanin pigment leading to a “fairer” skin tone.

However, EcoWaste reiterated that mercury can cause damage to the nervous, immune, and renal systems and also causes skin discoloration, rashes, and scarring, as well as reduce dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. – Maris Federez

Finance Department eyes tax on digital services

Marje Pelayo   •   May 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) is looking into the possibility of imposing a tax on digital services. 

The proposal which the DOF is now discussing with its attached agency, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), aims at collecting taxes from online revenue-generating services like online selling and streaming.

During the Senate hearing Wednesday (May 20), Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government has no information yet as to how much these digital platforms earn in their transactions. 

Thus, the DOF is looking into ways on how the government will be able to tax online companies like entertainment portal Netflix and commercial website Lazada. 

Just recently, House Committee on Ways and Means Chair Congressman Joey Salceda filed a bill that seeks to tax digital services in the country including what he called ‘network orchestrators’ or the ride-hailing services Angkas and Grab.

Salceda’s bill targets to raise P29.1 billion in revenues.

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 City bans sale of ‘harmful’ wet wipes brands

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2020

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.

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