VARIOUS groups and health advocates on Friday urged the Aquino government to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, an international instrument that prohibits the export of toxic wastes from rich to poorer countries, saying the long delay in ratifying the treaty is detrimental not only to the environment but also to the health and safety of Filipinos.
Citing the arrival of hazardous wastes from Canada early this year, environmental groups BAN Toxics and Green Convergence said similar incidents can be prevented if the Philippines signs the treaty.
“The Basel Ban Amendment is meant to protect developing countries such as the Philippines from toxic waste dumping by developed nations,” Richard Gutierrez, executive director of BAN Toxics, said.
While the Philippines is a signatory to the Basel Convention, which controls the movement of hazardous waste between and among nations, it has yet to ratify the amendment, which expanded the ban of shipments of toxic wastes meant for disposal or recycling.
“President [Benigno] Aquino [3rd] needs to nudge [Environment] Secretary [Ramon] Paje to get the ratification documents going. The longer President Aquino waits, the more we as a nation are exposed to foreign toxic wastes landing on our shores,” Gutierrez said.
Arvin Jo, policy officer of the Ateneo School of Government, said the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment will not have a negative effect to the economy.
“The Philippines has enough waste to recycle, we do not need to import,” Jo said.
“The Senate should fast track the ratification of Basel Ban Amendment to stop the importation of foreign waste which is hazardous to our people,” he added.
Of the 17 countries who have yet to ratify the multilateral treaty, two are in Southeast Asia—the Philippines and Vietnam.
The dumping of foreign wastes started in 1980 when developed countries such as United States transferred their toxic waste to poor countries like South Africa.
“Those toxic wastes contaminated the environment in those countries and also it affected the health of those people there. Many people in South Africa died and many were sick. Another incident in the 80’s foreign toxic waste from developed countries dumped their garbage into the ocean,” Jo said.
From 2001 to 2005, the top exporters of toxic wastes, particularly electronic waste (appliances and gadgets) to the Philippines are Japan and China. Looking at the foregoing e-waste importation volume of the Philippines it would appear that the demand for e-wastes in the Philippines ranges from 11,000 to 28, 000 kilograms.
Early this year, the Bureau of Customs discovered tons of garbage shipped from Canada in the guise of recyclable materials.