BY: Estrella Z. Gallardo
“The voters have spoken, and they want candidates who will address the issue of plastic pollution with true and lasting solutions. We are hearing a lot now on how politicians want to solve this crisis, but sadly, these are band aid solutions that are mostly done for show. Our voters are looking at the midterm elections to choose candidates who will present a vision and see that vision translate into action,” said Abigail Aguilar, campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines.
According to a Social Weather Stations survey undertaken on the third quarter of 2018, seven out of 10 Filipinos will support candidates who will ban establishments from using single-use plastic across the country.
The survey also showed that eight out of 10 Filipinos will vote for a candidate who will advocate for the strict implementation of solid waste management laws.
The nationwide survey also revealed that eight of 10 Filipinos support prohibiting groceries, public markets, fast food chains, and other similar establishments from using or providing non-biodegradable plastic bags, with a net approval rating of ‘extremely strong.’
The survey revealed a strong clamor for regulating or banning single-use plastics and the proper and full implementation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law, which provides for solid waste reduction through proper waste segregation, recycling, composting, and other ecological methods before disposal in the appropriate facilities.
Despite being hailed as one of the world’s most progressive laws on waste management, the implementation of the 18-year old law has suffered from lack of political will, alleged corruption by local government officials, and contradicting policies from government agencies involved in waste management.
The survey also revealed that people are starting to look at the role of corporations perpetuating the plastic pollution crisis. While seven out of 10 still point to individuals as being responsible for reducing plastic pollution in the country, three of 10 Filipinos now believe that companies that produce plastics should have greater responsibility.
“These findings show that plastic pollution has become an important issue for Filipinos. They expect their elected officials and those aspiring for public office to come up with genuine solutions to address the problem.They are also waking up to the fact that while individual responsibility is important, the companies who are pushing the continued production of single use and unrecyclable packaging for their products bear a greater responsibility for this crisis. This is a trend that we are seeing worldwide,” said Von Hernandez, coordinator of the global #breakfreefromplastic movement.
The Philippines, along with other Southeast Asian countries, have been reeling from the effects of plastic pollution brought about by the influx of products wrapped in sachets or smaller plastic packaging aimed at reaching lower income brackets in developing countries. However, the burden of managing the overabundance of plastic wastes often falls on the shoulders of the communities and governments, while corporations’ plastic production remains unbridled and unchecked, and is poised to increase by nearly 40% over the next decade.
“Everyone has the responsibility to solve this crisis, but we have to demand more accountability from those with bigger stakes in this issue. While our government is doing its part, it needs to go beyond the statements and act on the issue with more political will. Corporations producing plastic should also be more responsible and show their willingness to solve this plastic mess by reducing the amount of plastic they put out into the world. We need to stop dilly-dallying if we are truly committed to stopping this madness,” Aguilar said. (MegaManila Science Journalists Group)