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Senators to push for single-use plastic ban

At least three senators vowed Thursday to push for the single-use plastic ban amid a United Nations report that the Philippines is one of five countries that produce half of the world’s plastic waste

Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he will file a bill banning use of single-use plastic and will support and fast track the approval of similar proposed measures.

“It’s about time that we pass a national law.  Being the Majority Floor Leader, I will wholeheartedly support  and fast track the approval of my colleagues’ bills and I will file my own bill on the banning of this single use plastic, itong mga sachet na ginagamit at tinatapon,” Zubiri told reporters during the weekly Kapihan sa Senado.

He said once the committee report is out, he will calendar it to be discussed on the floor everyday until it is passed on third and final reading.

“We will push for it. We will make it the next agenda, advocacy for the Senate in this third regular session. We don’t have a national law, only ordinances done by cities and municipalities,” he said.

“We will wholeheartedly support the measure banning single use plastics and all these sachets na ginagamit sa shampoo, coffee, toothpaste na nagka-clog ng ating mga esteros at ito ang nagiging sanhi ng water pollution sa ating mundo,” added.

For his part, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the committee on trade, commerce, and entrepreneurship, said he is considering legislation to limit the use of plastics in industry and trade.

“I understand the convenience and economics of plastic use. However, we should never let short-term benefits doom us in the long term,” Pimentel said in a press release.

He said during his term as Senate President, he affirmed full legislative support from the Philippines for the global agenda to conserve and sustainably use the oceans during the February 13-14 meeting of the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) on the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goal 14, which focuses on the oceans, seas and marine resources.

At the time, Pimentel recommended doing away with single-use plastic bags and suggested mandating that disposable plastics be biodegradable.

He also asked Filipinos to consider reducing their use of plastic as the world observes World Oceans Day on Friday.

“Our economy’s strong performance has increased production and consumption. Unfortunately, it also increased the plastic waste we generate in the course of our daily activities. It’s time we consider how we can use plastic in a less destructive way,” he said.

Pimentel said there are estimates which project that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.

“It will be a disaster for everyone if we are to lose our fishing industry and the livelihood and sustenance it provides,” he said.

For her part, Senator Loren Legarda said she will be filing a bill to ban the use of single-use plastics and  microplastics, among others.

“It is now time for the Philippines to implement the same law. Banning microplastics and single-use plastics will help reduce wastage and may lead us to veer away from a throwaway culture, because the waste that we produce, unless minimized and managed properly, will find its way into our oceans and will affect both marine and human life,” she said in a speech during the 4th Asia Pacific Coral Reef Symposium Monday.

She said laws are not enough and most important is that these are implemented efficiently and effectively.

“Thus, I am calling on local government units to exercise its crucial role in the strict implementation and enforcement of existing relevant laws concerning conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity,” she said.

She also called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to work closely with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and academic institutions, to come up with programs for marine conservation and coral rehabilitation , as well as with the Philippine Coast Guard for stricter law enforcement. — RSJ, GMA News