The Duterte administration recalled the Philippine ambassador and consuls from Canada, because the failure to comply with the May 15 deadline to take back tons of Canadian trash that were shipped to Manila years ago. On the other hand, however, the Philippine has to deal also with its own waste problem.

In 2000 it was issued the Republic Act 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, but after many years we are still long away from its implementation. RA 9003 mandates recycling, segregating and the closure of dump sites but, as far as we can see, a lot of garbage continues to float in Manila Bay and more than 900 open dump sites are still in function across the country.

More. The Philippines generates 2.7 million tonnes of plastic waste annually and 20 per cent – or half a million tonnes – of that leaks into the oceans. The culprits? Corruption, lack of political will to seriously implement the RA 9003 and an addiction to single-use plastic sachets after the abandon of tingi culture when shoppers took their own reusable containers when going to the market places.

Today tons of plastic trash and garbage are clogging drainage canals and end in the surrounding, river, lakes and seas. A 2015 report on plastic pollution by the Ocean Conservancy charity and the McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment ranked the Philippines as the third-largest source of discarded plastic that ends up in the ocean, behind two other Asian nations: China and Indonesia.

During the recent election few concerned people called on politicians to moderate their use of tarpaulins for the upcoming midterm polls. Nevertheless, thousands and thousands were used during the political campaign, everywhere in the country. Tarpaulins are mostly made of polyvinyl chloride plastic and may contain toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead and phosphates that could leach and contaminate the soil and water. Great amount of cadmium in the body can cause kidney failures.

Now the political tarpaulins have to be removed and disposed. Some of these will still be recycled, reused or worst thrown away after worn out and no longer needed. Sooner or later, they will get buried in rice fields or find their ways somewhere to the Ocean if not properly collected and disposed.

Some Good News, however, from the national Mercury Drugstore: they are using only oxo-biodegradable sachets. A small step to a more clean environment.

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