Press Release
July 8, 2019

Transcript of Interview with Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

SFMD: Waste of other counties being imported into our shores prompted me to file Senate Bill No. 18, which will ban the importation of waste into our country. That is why today, I met with the EcoWaste Coalition and NGOs whose advocacies would be on proper waste disposition. We have proposed a bill that will totally ban the importation of waste. We will ask the Committee on Environment to conduct public hearings so that all the issues will be addressed. We will see how well the present laws, RA 6969 and RA 9003, are being implemented. What are the shortcomings and how do we address them in order that the flow of waste from other countries will be stopped. It is not good for us to be the recipient of waste materials. We are not the wastebasket of the world. We will look at it and view all the arguments.

There are countries that already banned the importation of waste, like China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, India. So we will look at the laws there. We will also examine certain practices in LGUs which have led to a good waste management practice, like Tacloban, Leyte, San Fernando in Pampanga. We will look at their practices and see what they were able to do that we may adopt nationwide in terms of legislation.

Q: Do we have an estimate volume of waste coming into the country?

EcoWaste Coalition: Back in 2016 we were importing from plastic waste scraps around 4,000 tons annually. In 2018 it shut up to 11,000 tons. It's not as much as in other countries but a lot of the waste that entered the country is illegal. That is why we find the bill strong in terms of banning all sorts of waste.

Q: These are industrial wastes?

Ecowaste: The number that I quoted earlier is plastic scaps.

SFMD: Yung hindi tumutupad sa batas under our proposal can be fined up to P15 million and imprisonment of 8 to 12 years. We believe that it is a reasonable penalty given the damage that we seek to prevent.

Q: So far we don't have laws like this?

SFMD: What we have is RA 6969, which regulates importation of solid waste. This law is being utilized to "legitimize" importation of waste.

Q: Sa ngayon paano dini-disposed yung mga ini-import na waste?

Ecowaste: For the plastic, they are using it in cements...

SFMD: Plastic is an alternative to fossil fuel in the cement...instead of using fossil fuel, they use plastic and this is one aspect that we have to carefully look at.

Q: Hindi iyon environment friendly?

SFMD: Talagang hindi.

Q: Kasi there are some departments justifying the use of plastic scraps?

EcoWaste: Actually lahat halos ng dumating dito an foreign waste, they are in disguised of plastic scraps. They are all declared as recyclable plastic scraps, but when you open the containers, puro mga mixed waste. Hindi lang recyclable plastics. Meron ding household waste like diapers na hindi na magagamit.

Dr. Paul Connett (EcoWaste): It is dangerous to burn plastics. what you are doing is when you send a plastic to cement, instead of an insulator, you're handling it to amateur instead of professionals, I don't like insulators run by professional, but cement chem, their profession is to make cement, it's not handling waste, hazardous's cheaper for them to burn plastic, waste but the price you pay is toxic cement and damage to local communities.

Q: Aside from Canada, what other countries bring in waste to the Philippines?

EcoWaste: After the Canada, we have the South Korea, Australia, Hongkong. Ito yung mga countries na nadiskubre. There are a lot of ports in the Philippines. Paano kung meron pang hindi nadiskubre?

Q: Confident kayong makakuha ng support among your colleagues?

SFMD: I would think so. I don't think anyone would oppose this kind of measure, given especially what we have recently seen. I cannot accept that we would be literally the dumping ground.

Q: What is in RA 6969 which enables them to import it legally?

EcoWaste: Under RA 6969, basta classified siyang recyclable papasok siya. Ang isa pang medyo ano, once meron siyang makuhang clearance, makakapasok siya. Pero kapag tiningnan nyo lahat ng pumasok, puro misdeclared.

Q: On the PCG-Marina report

SFMD: We must make this report public. I don't know if it has been release; I am not aware that it has been released. I call on the Malacanang to officially release the report. The report can be the basis for an action for damages under the Fisheries Code, because there was clear poaching and not only poaching, there was attack on our own fishermen. Questions are being raised on the effectivity of an action being taken on our domestic courts, meaning, file an action for damages against the Chinese vessel. To me, even if we could not identify the crew, we can just start with identifying the vessel and use "John Does" as the respondents. Why is it important? It is important because non-action on the PCG-Marina report can be interpreted as acquiescence. We may not be able to completely enforce our laws because of limitations such as we don't know who the crew are, but the fact that we are acting on the incident will be an argument that will favor us in the future when we continuously defend our position that Recto Bank is part of the Philippine's exclusive economic zone. Otherwise, as I said, non-action can be considered as acquiescence and in the future, can prejudice our assertion of sovereign rights over our EEZ.

RA 10654 or the Fisheries Code states that upon a summary finding of administrative liability, any foreign person, corporation or entity in violation of this code shall be punished by an administrative fine of US$600 thousand to US$1 million, or its equivalent in Philippine currency.

Q: Saang korte?

SFMD: It depends on who has jurisdiction. It's a local court.

Q: When you say acquiescence, is it tantamount to giving up our rights?

SFMD: When you look at how you assert your claim you take note of the overall conduct and part of these can be your failure to assert your rights when there is need to assert your rights.

Q: What should a friend like China do? Should they help identify the crew?

SFMD: They should. They should identify the captain and the crew of the vessel, the owner of the vessel. They can make their own report. That is expected from a sovereign country.

Q: Without any identification, we will use the "John Does"?

SFMD: Yes, and have it acquire jurisdiction by publication. My point is, it is the need to assert so that we will prevent a situation where by acquiescence we lose our sovereign right over our EZZ.

Q: This will be as powerful asa case identifying the accused?

SFMD: My point is, we file the case. We may find difficulty identifying those responsible without the cooperation of China but what we achieve is that we are showing our insistence on the protection of our rights over EEZ, because a non-action can be interpreted as acquiescence of foreign intrusion into our EEZ.

Q: Considering yung mga naging statement ni President, do you think may action gagawin ang administrasyon?

SFMD: We are advocating that an action be taken for the national interest.

Q: Kung hindi aakto ang government, can an interested party file a case using the official report?

SFMD: Yes, the fishermen can file it.

Q: What can we expect from the minority bloc?

SFMD: We will continue to fiscalize. We will continue to see to it that any bill that is debated upon is not to the benefit of any special group. We will see to that the bills filed and passed would be addressing issues that are to the public interest. You have seen us over the past three years. we will continue to exhibit the same diligence that we have shown in the last three years. I am not concerned that only three of us left.

Q: Civil suit lang yung pwede i-file against sa Chinese?

SFMD: I don't want to get into that because you cannot even identify them. Criminal is personal. It's hard to speculate. The first step is to identify. I don't think that at this stage the Chinese government will cooperate and identify the crew.

Q: Yung sa Amnesty International, the group is calling to investigate EJKs?

SFMD: The government should not ignore this. The AI is an organization that enjoys a certain degree of credibility insofar as the world stage is concerned. Therefore, we must respond to these cases. Human rights knows no international borders. It's not bound by territories. The UN is precisely there because of the need to impose some world order and that is why we participate even in peacekeeping missions, because such problem transcends beyond national boundaries. In the case of human rights we are signatories to national conventions.

Q: The Palace is saying na pino-politicize daw ng AI yung EJK?

SFMD: Nevertheless we should respond to these claims.

Q: Respond means the Duterte administration should be open to investigations?

SFMD: They should be open and they should answer the allegations.

Q: On death penalty, how will the minority bloc treat the bill? Mukhang may chance dawn a ma-tackle.

SFMD: It depends on the majority, but we can also assure you that we will leave no stone unturned in raising all the arguments that we believe must be made public, so that the suspension on the death penalty is not lifted. I was the Senate President when we impose the ban on death penalty? I have not seen any change in the situation then that could merit re-imposition of the death penalty.

Q: Kahit i-limit lang sa heinous crimes?

SFMD: No, because of the deficiencies in our justice system. That's my basic problem.

Q: Mislatel is expected to get their license to operate and frequency later, any comment?

SFMD: We voted negatively on the Mislatel franchise because of our view that legally, Mislatel could not transfer its franchise. That is now a legal issue. If the oppositors want to bring it the Supreme Court, that's their privilege.

Q: Kapag hindi nag-cooperate sa AI, ano yung magiging picture natin sa world stage?

SFMD: I don't know. That is why I'm asking the government to respond to these allegations.

Q: But it has the option not to respond.

SFMD: Yes, of course.

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