Ratify anti-mercury pact – group

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AN environment advocacy group over the weekend urged the next president of the country to ratify the Minamata Convention against Mercury.

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Aileen Lucero, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, on Sunday said the group is leaving it up to the next president to ratify the pact signed by the country in 2013.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje signed the convention on behalf of the Philippine government.

“The mercury treaty has not yet come into force more than two years since it was signed in October 2013 by most governments, including the Philippines,” Lucero explained.

She said that the EcoWaste Coalition has decided, during its General Assembly last Friday, “to call upon the next president to make the treaty ratification a top priority during her/his first 100 days in office.”

“The new chief executive will certainly have her/his hands full organizing the new government and we hope that she/he will not put the treaty ratification on the back burner,” Lucero stressed.

The group doubted that President Benigno Aquino 3rd would have time to ratify the treaty before he steps down on June 30 this year.

The convention was named after the Minamata City in Japan, which suffered from severe mercury pollution.

According to Lucero, the ratification of the Minamata Convention is important and strategic as it will help guide various governments “to cut mercury pollution across the globe by providing for controls and reductions in products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted.”

The treaty “will bolster the country’s efforts to prevent and reduce mercury pollution, which, among other things, include the phasing out mercury in medical devices, banning mercury in skin whitening cosmetics and prohibiting mercury in mineral processing, particularly in artisanal and small-scale gold mining,” she said.

“The swift ratification of the mercury treaty by the Philippines will be crucial in meeting the required 50 ratifications for the treaty to come into force this year,” she added.

Lucero asserted that “[t]he EcoWaste Coalition wanted the Philippines to join the first 50 countries to ratify the mercury treaty as this will bring honor to our country and people, as well as strengthen on-going work to prevent and reduce emissions and releases of toxic mercury into the air, land and water to protect human health and the environment.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury was signed by 140 countries in 2013.

It was agreed that the treaty will be enforced after 90 days following the ratification of 50 countries. It seeks to protect humans and the environment from mercury emissions.

At the moment, 25 countries, including the Philippines, need to ratify the Minamata Convention before it could be implemented by different countries.

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