Press Release
March 14, 2009


"We are known as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Now, we are also known as a country with one of the dirtiest and most littered seas. I am ashamed for all of us."

Thus declared Senator Loren Legarda, one of the Philippines' fiercest advocates for a clean environment, upon reading a report of the Ocean Conservancy listing the Philippines as one of the countries whose seas are heavily infested with garbage and waste.

Loren appealed to the national government and local governments to take decisive and effective action to clean the Philippine seas by fully implementing environmental laws, such as Republic Act No. 9003, known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which she authored.

"The just released report from the Ocean Conservancy is very troubling", Legarda, author of R.A. 9003 and Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Climate Change said today.

The report states that of the 11.4 million items of sea wastes gathered by the Conservancy in a one day clean-up in 104 countries, 1,355,236 items of garbage were gathered from Philippine waters. Of this total, the highest number of garbage items gathered were 679,957 plastic bags and 253,013 paper bags.

Other items gathered from Philippine waters were 103,226 food wrappers and containers, 68,421 straws and stirrers, 38,395 clothes and shoes, 34,154 cigarettes and cigarette filters and 20, 238 beverage bottles.

Loren pointed out that garbage wastes in the seas destroy the marine ecosystem, killing fish, crustaceans and corals, thus damaging the livelihood of thousands of fishermen's families, ravage the beauty and atmosphere of once emerald shores, and undermine the local and foreign tourist industry, while spreading disease among shore populations and visitors.

"There are laws to prevent this from happening," Loren fumed. "We just need to implement these laws. I also challenge the National Solid Waste Management Commission (formed under R.A. 9003), the lead agency in the fight against trash, to immediately address this issue. We cannot allow our seas to become trash bins. We are slowly but surely killing our greatest natural resource."

R.A. 9003 imposes the primary enforcement and responsibility of solid waste management with the local government units in cooperation with the the national government, other local government units, non- government organizations, and the private sector. It also calls for the proper segregation, collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of solid waste through the formulation and adoption of the best environmental practice in ecological waste management excluding incineration.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources should closely oversee the implementation of the law, Loren declared.

"I also challenge every Filipino to help clean up our country's seas. We as individuals, all have a responsibility towards the environment. The waste which finds its way to our seas come from all of us," said Legarda.

"The pollution we introduce into our seas will affect the food chain which is one of the foundations of our economy," she stressed. "Let us not think for a moment that the environment is not a gut issue. Everything we do to destabilize the environment directly affects the food production of this country, our very health and our economic viability.

"I have seen it. I have spoken with farmers, fishermen and multi-sector groups all over the country who have been telling me the same thing - that the change in the environment due to pollution has affected their livelihoods.

Fishermen have been seeing a decrease in their catch. We all are just too aware of the dangers of Red Tide, which is lethal threat to humans and which destroys livelihoods of so many fisher folk."

It is our duty and responsibility to our country to care for our ecosystems. Government should be at the forefront of this battle. The agencies concerned should take heed and act now. We, as individuals should require no less of ourselves." Legarda said.

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