Tuesday, August 31, 2010

“Ano ang nasa tubig mo?” Greenpeace demands Zero Discharge Policy in the Philippines

Greenpeace today asked Filipinos “Ano ang nasa tubig mo?” (“Do you know what’s in your water?”) to elicit their participation in the campaign for immediate implementation of a mandatory chemical disclosure system for industries, and to eliminate harmful wastewater from factories through a ‘zero discharge’ policy (1).

“Greenpeace is launching this initiative with a challenge to the public to think about what hidden chemicals are lurking in our lakes and rivers. These freshwater bodies are the ultimate sources of the water we drink and use. But our rivers and lakes are continually threatened by chemical industrial pollution — hidden dangers that are difficult to detect and are even harder to clean up,” said Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxics Campaigner.

“The public has the right to know what’s in their water. Today we are calling on people from all walks of life to join us in raising the alarm for government action to enforce concrete and effective measures to protect water quality, beginning with a policy that will openly disclose hazardous chemical use of factories,” she added.

The quality of fresh water sources in the Philippines is steadily declining while the costs of obtaining clean water is rising. And although government agencies monitor water quality, the parameters are severely limited and do not include many toxic substances from new technologies, including some of the most harmful compounds known to

humans such as persistent organic pollutants or POPs (2). Previous Greenpeace researches (3) reveal that many industrial discharges often contain hazardous chemicals which are persistent, bio-accumulated and toxic. The problem arises from poor environmental protection control, dirty industrial production using hazardous chemicals and blatant disregard for environment laws.

To date, no laws or regulations give Filipinos the right to know about hazardous chemicals use by factories, and their transfer and release to the environment. Thus there is no information available on the types and amounts of toxic chemicals which are released into water bodies.

“Pollution is not a secret. Freedom of Information must extend to industrial use of poisonous chemicals. Effective protection of our water resources depends highly on public access to information and public participation in decision-making. Greenpeace is therefore calling on the public to be part of this initiative to protect the water we drink by joining us in demanding the government to institute legislation to address the rights of the public to know about toxic releases from industry. This will open toxic chemical use to public scrutiny and safeguard each citizen’s right to a healthy environment,” said Baconguis.

The problem of water pollution aggravates the problem of water scarcity which is a serious threat to the country during dry season. The campaign “Ano ang nasa tubig mo?” is a continuation of the Greenpeace Water Patrol initiative “Saan galing ang tubig mo?” conducted last April. Both projects aim to deepen public awareness regarding threats to our water supply and every citizen’s role in protecting it.


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