Villar seeks ban on single-use plastics

Robie de Guzman   •   July 19, 2019   •   856

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.

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.

Senate to probe use of farmer funds

Maris Federez   •   July 30, 2019

Senate committee on agriculture and food chairperson Cynthia Villar has filed a resolution that seeks to probe the implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law.

In particular, Senator Villar wants to find out the use of the rice competitiveness enhancement fund that was set up to help the farmers.

Villar said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released Php5-billion to the Department of Agriculture (DA) in December 2018 as assistance to farmers.

It was discovered, however, that only Php1-B went to the farmers’ sector.

The lawmaker said both departments had an opposing stand on the issue.

She added, “Hindi raw para sa rice competitiveness enhancement fund yun. Pero sabi ng DBM iyon daw ay para sa rice competitiveness fund ([The DA said] it was not for rice competitive enhancement fund. But DBM said it was for rice competitiveness fund). So we will know who is telling the truth.”

The senator said they want to find out where the DA used the said fund that is supposed to be used in the procurement of farm equipment to be given to rice farmer groups and cooperatives.

“Kasi this is very important, this is the competitiveness of our farmers kasi we have liberalized the importation of rice so we have to make our farmers as competitive as soon as possible,” Villar added.

Under the Rice Tarrification Law, the rice competitiveness enhancement fund must have a yearly allocation of Php10-Billion. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

DENR calls on gov’t, business sector to address problem of plastic pollution

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 4, 2019

DPWH personnel collect plastic waste from polluted esteros | Courtesy: DENR

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has urged the government and business sectors to work together in addressing plastic pollution in the country.

Assistant Secretary and Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Ricardo Calderon said lessening the use of plastics can help prevent marine creatures from ingesting plastic.

“We urge everyone to join the pledge for our environment; a pledge that will institutionalize our collective and collaborative action towards addressing the issue of marine debris,” he said.

Meanwhile, the DENR eyes on rehabilitating Baguio City’s Balili River, which coliform level is even worse than that of the Manila Bay.—AAC

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