Press Release
September 26, 2021

De Lima urges Congress to review LGUs' compliance with COVID-19 related waste segregation

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima urged Congress to assess the compliance of Local Government Units (LGUs) on waste segregation amid the increase of COVID-19-related healthcare wastes produced within healthcare facilities, research centers, and laboratories related to medical procedures as well as at home.

De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 910 directing the appropriate Senate Committee to conduct an inquiry on the compliance of LGUs with Republic Act No. 9003 or the "Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000."

"The increased volume of healthcare wastes has imposed new burdens on both the national and local governments and the absence of strong solid waste management during the pandemic might contribute to the rapid and more widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the country," she said.

"The full cooperation and strong political commitment of LGUs are critical ingredients of an efficient and effective implementation of R.A. No. 9003," she added.

As COVID-19 cases surge in the Philippines, De Lima noted that the amount of COVID-19-related health care wastes "have grown exponentially."

According to Environment Undersecretary for Climate Change Analiza Teh, the Philippines has produced around 52,000 metric tons of hospital wastes as of April 14, 2021, which is equivalent to over two million sacks of rice, with one sack containing 25 kilograms.

Said confirmation coincides with another study stating that the Philippines ranked 17th worldwide in terms of global plastic wastes generated from COVID-19 facemasks.

While the Department of Health (DOH) issued the revised Health Care Waste Management Manual that provides information regarding safety procedures on the collection, transport, handling, storage, treatment, and disposal of healthcare wastes, De Lima said there are no similar protocols regarding household COVID-19-related wastes.

"Remedial measures or interim guidelines to ensure the proper disposal and storage of COVID-19-related health care wastes appear to be inadequate," she said.

In filing the Resolution, De Lima underscored the need to enact amendments to the existing legislation that will provide a comprehensive protocol on proper and effective segregation and disposal of COVID-19-related health care wastes.

"Given the inadequate and improper handling of hazardous wastes in local communities during this pandemic, which have serious public health consequences as well as significant environmental impact, it is crucial for the government to adequately and immediately respond, by developing a contingency plan based on local conditions and requirements," she added.

According to a report by the United Nations Environment Program, the Philippines is considered to be the fourth largest generator of solid wastes among country-members of the ASEAN as it generates up to 14.66 million tons of trash per year.

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