Thursday, September 30, 2010

Worst typhoon marked; Filipinos urged to control plastic use

Filipinos commemorated Sunday the first anniversary of the
typhoon that caused the worst floods to hit Manila in 40 years with
climate advocates calling on Filipinos to restore ecological balance.

Typhoon Ondoy (international codename: Ketsana) struck September 26,
2009 and affected four million Filipinos, killed 464, and destroyed
40,000 houses in and around Metro Manila.

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Towns and cities staged prayers of remembrance of the victims of the
devastating typhoon. In Rizal province, a memorial was unveiled Sunday
for villagers who perished trying to save neighbors.

The government also announced it has provided rescue boats to help
respond to future inundations.

Office of the Civil Defense Administrator Benito Ramos said 160 rescue
boats have been provided for flood-prone Manila areas and 50 more will
be bought.

During last year's deluge, some army rescuers perished when their
rubber boats sank after being punctured by debris. The new rescue
boats, which can carry 12 to 18 people, have been fitted with
fiberglass hulls to prevent such accidents.

"Nature taught us so many lessons last year," Ramos said.

He also urged squatters to move away from river banks and for people
to dispose garbage properly to help prevent floods.

Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition and allied groups earlier proposed
the switching from using disposable plastic bags to reusable bags and

"Typhoon Ondoy taught us in a deeply painful and costly way that
practices which defile and destroy the ecosystems have no place in our
fragile planet and should stop," said Roy Alvarez, president of
EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our addiction to plastic bags and to everything that is disposable
has exacerbated the effects of the epic flood and made the post-Ondoy
cleanup most difficult,” he added.

Alvarez also said that switching from disposable plastic bags to
reusable bags and containers will cut waste size and clean out
waterways and dumpsites.

Pampanga Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr. also joined the fight on
the use of plastic bags as he introduced Resolution 783 in the House
of Representatives recently.

“The use of plastics being non-biodegradable is one of the causes of
ecological degradation; the use of plastic bags as packing materials
of goods sold by business establishments can be attributed as one main
factor in the environmental problems we are facing,” he said.

House Resolution 783 is an act providing for the phase-out of plastic
bags as packing materials of goods sold or disposed by sari-sari
stores, market vendors, department stores, and similar establishments,
prescribing penalties therefore, and for other purposes.

The bill proposes the phase-out of plastic bags, not as an answer, but
as a practical contribution to the demands and needs to solve our
environmental problems, said Gonzales.

“The measure is based on the concept of sacrificing some of our
convenience for the sake of Mother Earth,” he added.

The bill provides that the use of plastic bags as packing materials of
goods sold by sari-sari stores, market vendors, department stores, and
similar establishments shall be prohibited after the phase out period,
two years after its effectivity, as determined by the resolution.

After the phase-out period, only biodegradable plastics shall be
permitted to be used. Other biodegradable materials may also be used
as packing materials, as approved by the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources, the bill said.

The rapid advances in technology, as shown by the creation of
biodegradable plastics, will soften whatever increases in cost the
enactment of this law will bring, said Gonzales.

Gonzales said in the bill that the Department of Science and
Technology is tasked with assisting plastic manufacturers in acquiring
the appropriate technology required in the production of biodegradable
plastic bags.

Once approved violators of the act shall be fined P500 for the first
offense; P700 for the second offense; and P1,000 plus suspension of
the business permit for a period of 30 calendar days.

In lieu of plastic bags, the use of bayong or native woven bags and
other baskets made of biodegradable plant materials such as anahaw,
bamboo, buri, coconut, isay, kalagimay, nipa, rattan, and water lily
are recommended.


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