Just before the International Right-to-Know Day, the activists delivered a petition urging the DENR to establish a “Right-to-Know” system for chemicals, and adopt a policy to eliminate hazardous chemicals released by factories into freshwater bodies.
“Many of the chemicals discharged into our rivers and lakes are carcinogenic, can cause mental retardation and damage vital organs,” said Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Greenpeace laments that the DENR, the agency who holds the mandate on matters relating to environmental protection and toxics pollution, has not been vigilant in monitoring hazardous chemicals in order to prevent their entry into our water systems.”
It has been 20 years since the law on hazardous chemicals (RA 6969) was passed. But the DENR has so far issued only five (5) Chemical Control Orders for mercury, asbestos, cyanide, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and ozone-depleting substances (ODS).
Greenpeace first launched its water campaign in 2007, and since then, the group has been calling on the DENR to be more decisive and uncompromising on water protection. In 2010 the group staged a “die-in” where activists played dead in front of the government agency’s main office to drive home the message of how toxic contamination threatens the lives of Filipinos who are deprived of clean water.
“It is obvious the government has failed to protect us from toxic contamination. Worse, they keep us in the dark about these pollutants,” Baconguis said. “Today, Filipinos are standing up for their right to know and access information. The government should establish a Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) policy that would make this information publicly available, as a first step to eliminating toxic pollution.”
“Unlike zombies which are plain make-believe, poisons in our water pose a real threat and need government’s urgent attention and action. The DENR’s lax behaviour on hazardous chemicals that are released into the environment is killing our waters and jeopardizing our own survival,” she concluded.
The “Right-to-Know Water Patrol” expedition was a three-week event organized by Greenpeace. It covered 85 kilometers of the Marikina River to Laguna de Bay. Over 100 volunteers and water patrollers travelled by boat, bike and on foot to document potential industry polluters and raise awareness on toxic pollution in the area.
For more information:
Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Toxics Campaigner, +63917-8715257
Vigie Benosa-Llorin, Media Campaigner, +63917-8228793