Malacañang on Sunday was optimistic that Congress will take the initiative to approve a measure that aims to prohibit the use of plastic products in the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo hoped senators and congressmen will support President Rodrigo Duterte’s intent to implement a nationwide ban on the use of plastics, in a bid to protect the environment and promote a greener Philippines.
“The President has broached that idea. It is for members of Congress to adopt it, to use their initiative to have that kind of idea,” the Palace official told dzIQ.
Duterte floated the idea of imposing a ban on plastic products during the 43rd Cabinet meeting at Malacañan Palace on Wednesday. He, however, acknowledged that his plan would require legislative action.
On Friday, environmental group Greenpeace called on the President to certify as urgent a proposed legislation that will stop the use of plastic products.
Panelo guaranteed that any legislative measure banning the use of plastics will get support from Duterte.
“Tingnan natin kung merong miyembro ng Kongreso, ng Senado na magpausad ng ganyang idea. (Let’s see if there are members of the House of Representatives and the Senate who will push for such idea),” he said.
“Dahil suportado na ni Presidente, hindi na kataka-taka (It will not be surprising if the President does it since he supports the idea),” Panelo added, when quizzed if Duterte will certify as urgent the proposed legislative bill prohibiting the use of plastics in the country.
Several senators and congressmen have sought the ban on single-use plastic products. However, the proposed measures they filed remain pending at the committee level.
While the government has yet to enact a nationwide ban on the use of plastic bags, Panelo stressed the need for stricter implementation of the Republic Act 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
RA 9003 mandates the State to adopt a “systematic, comprehensive, and ecological solid waste management program.”
“Eh siguro dapat ipatupad na natin nang maayos para kung anuman dapat ang trabahuhin ng ahensya ngayon, gawin na nila kasi naapektuhan din ang ating ecology (Perhaps, we have to strictly enforce it, so concerned agencies will be compelled to perform their respective tasks since our ecology is suffering),” Panelo said.
The Philippines is the third biggest source of plastic dumped in the world’s oceans, following China and Indonesia, according to a 2015 report by international group Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.
The Philippines also uses a “shocking” amount of single-use plastic, based on the report by non-government organization Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives published by Agence-France-Presse in March 2019.
The report revealed that Filipinos use nearly 48 million shopping bags daily; 16.5 billion smaller, thinner, and transparent plastic bags yearly; and 60 billion sachets annually.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has also warned that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean, if plastic pollution continues. (PNA)