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Framework for the comprehensive management of hazardous and radioactive wastes pushed

MANILA, May 10 — The House of Representatives is set to approve on third and final reading a bill that would formulate a framework for the comprehensive management of hazardous and radioactive wastes.

The House Committee on Ecology, chaired by Rep. Amado S. Bagatsing (5th District, Manila), endorsed and sponsored House Bill No. 5585, which substituted House Bills 86, 393, 826, 1059, 2585 and 3191 authored, respectively, by Reps. Ma. Lourdes Acosta-Alba (1st District, Bukidnon), Susan A. Yap (2nd District, Tarlac), Marcelino R. Teodoro (1st District, Marikina City), Neptali M. Gonzales II (Lone District, Mandaluyong City), Douglas S. Hagedorn (3rd District, Palawan), and Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza (Party List, TUCP).

“Despite all our laws scattered in different enactments and decrees, we need a comprehensive and consolidated law that will provide us with an effective hazardous and radioactive waste management framework, which would require an inter-agency coordination both in the national and local government to oversee and make inventory of hazardous waste creators and treatment, storage and disposal facilities,” Yap said.

According to Yap, there are several laws on the management of hazardous and radioactive wastes. These include Presidential Decree 1152 or “The Philippine Environmental Code,” which provides a basis for an integrated waste management regulation starting from waste source to methods of disposal, mandates specific guidelines to manage municipal wastes, sanitary landfill and incineration, and disposal sites in the Philippines.

Yap also cited Republic Act 6969, the “Toxic Substances, Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act,” which responds to increasing problems associated with toxic chemicals and hazardous and nuclear wastes, and Presidential Decree 984 (Pollution Control Law), PD 1586 (Environmental Impact Assessment System Law), R.A. 8749 (Clean Air Act); and R.A. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act), which require hazardous waste management.

As for R. A. 9003, Yap said while it was lauded as a landmark legislation on proper handling of solid waste, it only went as far as defining hazardous wastes and leaving the management to the Local Government Units (LGUs) without providing sufficient enough guidance for the law.

Yap said if only there was already a law on the proper management and disposal of hazardous wastes, the 1996 Marcopper mining disaster in Marinduque would not have happened. The tragedy was one of the largest mining disasters in Philippine history that made headlines around the world, she noted.

“The discharge of mining tailings into the Boac River instantly killed the 27-kilometer long river, decimated the fish and other biodiversity in the habitat, buried at least one village underneath a toxic mud, depriving tens of thousands locals of their livelihood,” Yap said.

In 2004, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ((DSWD) registered 3,801 hazardous wastes generators, which produce 226 million tons of hazardous wastes annually. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has estimated that, based on population projections, local healthcare waste could reach as much as 69.5 tons per day by 2050.

Just last July, the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental non-government organization, raised the alarm on the presence of hazardous wastes dumped at Pier 18 of Manila composed of used computer hardware, chip boards, and cellular phones, which contain heavy metals that are toxic to humans.

“Our experience shows that a more comprehensive hazardous and radioactive wastes management is of extreme necessity in order to avert industrial disasters that could potentially destroy our environment and ecology, and ultimately, our people’s health and safety,” Yap said.

House Bill 5585, to be known as the “Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes Management Act,” shall apply to the generation, possession, collection, recovery, reuse, storage, transport, treatment and disposal of hazardous and radioactive wastes in the country and shall cover the entry and transit into the Philippine territory of such wastes.

After formulating the criteria for identifying and listing of hazardous and radioactive wastes, the DENR shall prepare a National Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes Management Status Report (NHRWMS) in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH), the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) and other concerned agencies.

The NHRWMS Report shall be the basis in the preparation and formulating a framework that would embody the policies pursuant to the proposed Act.

The framework shall be adopted as the official blueprint for hazardous and radioactive wastes management with which all relevant government agencies must comply.

The measure creates an Inter-agency Technical Advisory Council for purposes of policy integration, harmonization and coordination of functions.

Aside from provisions of rewards and incentive schemes, the measure also provides liabilities, prohibitions, fines, damages and penalties, administrative sanctions, citizen suits and Strategic Legal Action Against Public Participation.

The DENR, the DOH and the PNRI, shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations, in consistent with other rules and regulations issued by relevant government agencies and instrumentalities relative to hazardous and radioactive wastes management.

In addition to its mandated functions, the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee created under Republic Act 9003 or the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000” shall also monitor the implementation of this proposed Act.

Co-authors are Reps. Christopher S. Co (Party List, AKO BICOL), Rodel M. Batocabe (Party List, AKO BICOL), Agapito H. Guanlao (Party List, BUTIL), Cesar V. Sarmiento (Lone District, Catanduanes), Anthony G. Del Rosario (1st District, Davao Del Norte), Victoria G. Noel (Party List, AN WARAY), Emi G. Calixto-Rubiano (Lone District, Pasay City), Belma A. Cabilao (1st District, Zamboanga Sibugay), Dan S. Fernandez (1st District, Laguna), Mel Senen S. Sarmiento (1st District, Western Samar), Eric L. Olivarez (1st District, Paranaque City), Rolando A. Uy (1st District, Cagayan de Oro City), Napoleon S. Dy (3rd District, Isabela), Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado (2nd District, Bohol), Evelina G. Escudero (1st District, Sorsogon), Sol Aragones (3rd District, Laguna), Ansaruddin A.M. A. Adiong (1st District, Lanao Del Sur), Cheryl P. Deloso-Montalla (2nd District, Zambales), Joseller M. Guiao (1st District, Pampanga), Imelda R. Marcos (2nd District, Ilocos Norte), Alex L. Advincula (3rd District, Cavite), Dakila Carlo E. Cua (Lone District, Quirino), Isidro T. Ungab (3rd District, Davao City), Thelma Z. Almario (2nd District, Davao Oriental), Carlos M. Padilla (Lone District, Nueva Vizcaya), Frederick F. Abueg (2nd District, Palawan), Pedro B. Acharon Jr. (1st District, South Cotabato), Nicasio M. Aliping Jr. (Lone District, Baguio City), Magnolia Rosa C. Antonino (4th District, Nueva Ecija), Rosa Marie J. Arenas (3rd District, Pangasinan), Leopoldo N. Bataoil (2nd District, Pangasinan), Silvestre H. Bello III (Party List, 1 BAP), Anthony M. Bravo (Party List, COOP NATCCO), Lawrence Lemuel H. Fortun (1st District, Agusan Del Norte), Gwendolyn F. Garcia (3rd District, Cebu), Ana Cristina Siquian Go (2nd District, Isabela), Anthony V. Gullas Jr. (1st District, Cebu), Fernando L. Hicap (Party List, ANAKPAWIS), Mark Llandro L. Mendoza (4th District, Batangas), Victor F. Ortega (1st District, La Union), Leah S. Paquiz (Party List, ANG NARS), Mariano U. Piamonte Jr. (Party List, A TEACHER), Terry L. Ridon (Party List, KABATAAN), Roman T. Romulo (Lone District, Pasig City), Estrella B. Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija), Randolph S. Ting (3rd District, Cagayan), Eulogio R. Magsaysay (Party List, AVE), Julliette T. Uy (2nd District, Misamis Oriental), Victor J. Yu (1st District, Zamboanga Del Sur), Sharon S. Garin (Party List, AAMBIS-OWA), Pablo R. Nava III (Party List, APPEND), Jonathan A. Dela Cruz (Party List, ABAKADA), Philip A. Pichay (1st District, Surigao Del Sur), Henry S. Oaminal (2nd District, Misamis Occidental), and Arthur R. Defensor, Jr. (3rd District, Iloilo). (PNA)

SCS/HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES-PR/PJN

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