Greenpeace climbers unfurl a banner on the smoke stack of the Cementa cement factory
While the battle against incineration has been won in the
Philippines, our war on waste is far from over. Incinerator
proponents have not stopped campaigning for a repeal of the ban.
International funding institutions continue to dangle the carrot of
soft loans for the construction of modern incinerators disguised as
sustainable waste management solutions.
Meanwhile, more and more communities in the Philippines are
demonstrating the wisdom and superiority of zero waste programs for
managing society's discards. For us, these communities epitomise
the enduring triumph of common sense and public participation over
ignorance, greed and apathy, which dumpsites like Payatas and
Smokey Mountain have come to represent.
These modern-day museums of corporate irresponsibility are
burning reminders of everything that is wrong with our throw-away
society, and with the corrupt system that bedevils the life-blood
of our nation. While Filipinos have made a tradition of mounting
bloodless revolutions to depose corrupt presidents, the power of
our people has yet to bring about a true process of positive
renewal against the culture of corruption, inefficiency and
incompetence in government.
As such, we will endeavour to cleanse our society by making
waste a key issue in next year's presidential elections. Now more
than ever, we need leaders who possess the vision, the creativity,
and the will to transform a festering problem into an opportunity
that will energise our communities and free ourselves from the
misery and hopelessness symbolised by our notorious mountains of
Paradoxically, amid poverty and squalor lie hope and redemption.
In a community in Smokey Mountain you will find good old-fashioned
hope in the efforts of a priest organising women, youth and the
jobless into a recycling cooperative. In the middle of a garbage
dump, a community garden comes to life. The people who make this
happen are the real heroes in the war for sustainability. Their
vision and boldness inspire people like myself to work for the
greater ideals of life, community, governance, nationhood and the
The war on waste is a war against greed, ignorance,
incompetence, and apathy. This is the war that needs to be waged.
It is also a war that needs to be won if we are to liberate our
societies from the treadmill of over-consumption. If ever there was
a just and moral war that needs to be fought and won, this is it.
The wastefulness of our societies is compromising the ability of
nature to sustain our needs and those of future generations. The
war on waste reminds us that the general direction of rescue and
redemption for our planet lies in better humanity more than better
Thank you and let's all work together to build a better world
for our children.
Von Hernandez Co-Coordinator, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives/Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance (GAIA) Asian Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace International