Villar seeks ban on single-use plastics

Robie de Guzman   •   July 19, 2019   •   1095

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Cynthia Villar on Friday said she has filed a bill seeking a ban on single-use plastics to curb plastic pollution in the country.

Under Senate Bill No. 333 or the Single-Use Plastic Product Regulation Act of 2019, Villar wants to regulate the manufacturing, importation, and use of single-use plastic products.

The bill also seeks to prohibit the issuance of the single-use plastics by food establishments, stores, markets, and retailers.

Consumers will also be diverted to use reusable materials, and manufacturers will be mandated to collect, recycle and dispose of single-use plastics manufactured and/or in circulation in the general market.

Importation of single-use plastics will no longer be allowed.

For violation for business enterprises, micro, small and medium enterprises, the bill proposes to impose penalties ranging from a fine of P10,000 to 100,000 and suspension or revocation of business permit.

For VAT registered enterprises, establishments, and store, and for all plastic manufacturers found violating this act will face penalties ranging from a fine of P100,000 to P1 million and suspension or revocation of business permits.

Villar said the enactment of the bill is urgent in the face of a study showing the Philippines as the world’s third-largest producer of plastic wastes that end up in the oceans.

A 2015 report conducted by the international group Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment ranked the Philippines as the third biggest source of plastic leaking into the oceans, following China and Indonesia.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has also warned that if plastic pollution continues, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

“With our dependence in agriculture, plastic pollution also poses a grave threat in our food security. Disaster risks and hazards arising from plastic pollution may put farms at risk of flooding resulting in wastage of agricultural products along with its threats to a balanced ecology. Micro plastics leaked in our bodies of water may also put public health at risk as it gets into our food chain,” Villar said.

The senator also noted the practice of buying products in sachets that made the plastic waste problem worse.

“Hindi naman natin masisi ang mga tao kung ang kaya lang bilhin ay yung sapat para sa ilang araw lang na gamitan. But we must put pressure on the corporations that produce these products to come up with a program to recycle these wastes and minimize impact on the environment,” Villar said.

The bill also creates a Special Fund for Single-use Plastic Regulation composed of collected tariffs, levies and fees.

Among others, the fund will be used for the establishment of recycling centers, and assistance and incentives for manufacturers and community-based initiatives for the reduction of single-use plastics, as well as for non-government and civil society organizations promoting proper solid waste management.

QC bans single-use plastics in supermarkets, hotels, restos

Maris Federez   •   January 11, 2020

Quezon City, Philippines — The city government announced on Friday that it will implement the ban against single-use plastics in supermarkets beginning this month, and in hotels and restaurants starting February.

This is in accordance with the newly enacted city ordinance that amended the 2012 Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance which provided that customers have the option to pay for the plastic bags to be used for their grocery items at supermarket counters.

Several grocery stores, as well as, supermarkets inside the malls in Quezon City have abided by the resolution, posting notices on entrance areas of the establishments.

According to the Quezon City Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department (QC-EPWM), this will be a big help in reducing the volume of garbage being collected in the city.

It added that plastic bags being collected daily in the city correspond to a ten-wheeler dump truck in volume, while single-use plastics collected daily would fill up a mini-dump truck.

“So, if you multiply that in a year, 365, kung ma-reduce natin ‘yun, significant na ‘yung contribution na para mabawasan ‘yung waste generation natin, lalo na sa plastics,” said Vincent Vinarao, Head of QC-EPRM- Special Projects on Climate Change Unit.

The city government is also set to implement the ban on the use of paper bags in supermarkets in 2022.

This is to encourage customers to bring their own eco-bags.

A group of supermarket owners, however, said it will be difficult for them to implement the ban on single-use plastics.

Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association (PAGASA) President Steven Cua said the exact implementation date of the said law was not clear to them.

“Question mark as to how to do it. How do you sell to someone, karton? Mauubos ang karton […] We are committed to comply as long as there is a way. Right now, I have this (question mark) asking, ‘how do we do it, Steve?’”

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, on the other hand, said that supermarket and business owners in the city were given enough time to prepare for this as they have had several discussions with them since the ordinance was approved in October 2019.

“With Mr. Cua’s statement, obviously may pagkukulang pa kami, and I will press them for a more intensified information dissemination campaign,” the mayor said.

Belmonte also clarified that colloquially called “plastik labo” or translucent plastic wraps or pouches being used in marketplaces as container for food and meat products are not covered by the ban.

In February, single-use plastics, such as disposable spoons and forks, plastic cups, straws, coffee stirrers, and the like will also be banned in fast-food restaurants, hotels, and other establishments, particularly on dine-in.

Belmonte added that this will also help in the city’s continuing segregation efforts.

“I think we have established about 64%, more than 50% definitely of segregation success rate natin, at tingin ko malaking kabawasan na doon sa itinatapon natin sa landfill dahil wala na tayong landfill dito sa lungsod Quezon,” she said.

For the first offense, violators will be meted out with Php1,000.00 fine.

Second offense will suffer Php3,000.00 fine, with the cancellation of the Environmental Clearance Certificate and a Cease and Desist order.

Third offense, on the other hand, will be fined Php5,000.00 and will be meted out revocation of the business permit and closure of the errant establishment.

The local government said it will deputize environmental police from its own staff, from the barangay personnel, and from the private sector, which will inspect all supermarkets and related establishments. — (from the report of Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

9th OFW Summit in Pasay highlights concepts of financial literacy, entrepreneurship

Robie de Guzman   •   November 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – At least 4,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and their dependents attended the 9th OFW and Family Summit held on Tuesday at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

The event, with the theme “Kabuhayan sa Sariling Bayan,” highlighted the concepts of financial literacy and entrepreneurship as well as business start-ups and trends.

The summit was spearheaded by the Villar Family through its foundation, the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (Villar SIPAG), in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and other government and non-government agencies.

“Masaya po kami dahil napakaraming kababayan na OFW ang nagpunta at nagpakita ng interes sa mga livelihood or business opportunities dito sa Pilipinas na maaari nilang paglagyan ng kinita nila abroad para magkaroon ng sariling kabuhayan dito sa atin,” Sen. Cynthia Villar said in a separate statement.

“Gusto talaga namin na maraming mahikayat na ang katuparan ng mga pangarap ay hindi lamang makukuha kapag tayo ay nag-abroad. Pwede din tayong magtagumpay sa sariling bayan natin,” she added.

Resource persons invited to the summit from various agencies discussed topics on financial literacy and provided guidance on how to seize opportunities and become entrepreneurs.

“Iyon ang intention namin na in the future na babalik sila sa Pilipinas, dapat y’ong mga pamilya nila, mayroon ng hanapbuhay na naghihintay sa kanila para pwede na silang mag-retire at mag-operate na lang dito sa Pilipinas.” Villar told reporters on the sidelines of the summit.

“Hindi nila kailangang magtayo ng restaurant kung ang galing mo care-giving; or ikaw ay graphic artist, pwede kang graphic designer at ‘yon ang iyong negosyo,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

Concerns of OFWs on where to find accredited recruitment agencies, what agencies to ask help from for problems abroad, and their rights as overseas workers were also tackled during the event.

Participants also enjoyed a raffle draw with prizes such as a house and lot, motorcycles, pangkabuhayan showcases, appliances, and other gadgets. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Villar urges new DA acting chief to return P4 billion for rice fund

Robie de Guzman   •   August 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Cynthia Villar has urged new acting Agriculture Secretary William Dar to prioritize the return of the funds intended for the programs that will help increase farmers’ production under the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tarrification Law.

Villar said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P5 billion last year for the enactment of the law creating the P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

Of the amount, only P1 billion went to RCEF’s program providing farmers access to cheap credit through Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, the senator said.

“Kahit sabihin pa nila na kaya ginastos iyon dahil hindi pa napapasa ang RCEF, dapat naghintay sila at hindi ginastos sa ibang bagay,” Villar said.

“I want DA to account for the remaining P4 billion and also to make sure that P4 billion will be immediately returned to RCEF,” she added.

Villar said the amount is needed to jumpstart the programs enumerated in the law, which was already delayed by the late approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act.

RA 11203, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 14, 2019, replaced the quantitative restriction on rice imports with tariffs. The collected amount will be given to farmers to improve their competitiveness through RCEF.

Under RCEF, P5 billion will be allocated to the Philippine Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) for the procurement of farm equipment to be distributed to 947 rice-producing towns in the Philippines.

P3 billion will be allotted to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to teach farmers how to produce inbred seeds, which will increase their yield by up to 50 percent from 4 metric tons per hectare (MTN/ha) to 6 MTN/ha.

RCEF will also provide P1 billion for the creation of a credit facility with minimal interest rates and collateral requirements.

The remaining P1 billion is allocated to PhilMech, PhilRice, the Agriculture Training Institute and the Technical Skills Development Authority for farmers’ skills training.

With the appointment of William Dar as acting Agriculture chief, Villar expressed hope that the department will now be more supportive of the full implementation of the law and the return of P4 billion for rice fund will be prioritized.

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