Usage of single use plastic bags in the Philippines may end soon

Senator Grace Poe, former local government secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago Photos ©
Presidential wannabees Senator Grace Poe, former local government secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago Photos ©

THE EcoWAste Coalition said the usage  of single-use plastic bags may end if one of the presidential bets — Senators Grace Poe, and Miriam Defensor Santiago or former local government Secretary Mar Roxas  — is elected as 16th president of the Philippines on May 9.

The green coalition said the three presidential wannabes expressed willingness to end the use of plastic bags after being asked in a mailed questionnaire “what policy measures will your administration take to stop the ‘plasticization’ of the oceans?” The group said it asked the question to ascertain the presidential contenders’ positions on the environment especially the burning of waste and toxic matters like plastic.

The “plasticization of the oceans,” the group stressed, “is a disturbing scenario for a fish-eating country like the Philippines where fishing is also a major source of livelihood,” citing a recently-published study warning there will be more plastic by weight than fish by 2050 in the world’s oceans.

Poe, Santiago and Roxas expressed support for a national ban on single-use plastic bags as one of such measures to stop plastics from polluting the oceans. The other two candidates for the presidency — Vice-President Jejomar Binay and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte — did not answer the questionnaire sent by the coalition.

“To reduce plastics that make their way to oceans, we will support the nationwide ban on single-use and thin film plastic bags. We shall set a transition period to allow the affected industries, such as the plastic industry, to adapt to the phasing out of single-use plastic bags for commercial and household purposes,” Poe said.

During her administration, Ms. Poe added she shall explore environment-friendly alternatives to plastic bags and engage private businesses and the public to support the legislation and join initiatives to lessen plastic use,  including using ecobags for shopping and marketing.

“At the local level, we need to strengthen the ban on littering and open dumping, especially in coastal areas where open dumps are located near the shore and garbage easily make its way to the seas,” Poe pointed out adding that “we shall also emphasize the responsibility of companies to produce goods that are recyclable and can be composted.”

For her part, Santiago, if elected, will ask Congress to refile her bills and shepherd them into passage: Senate Bill 2337 which seeks to ban the use of single-use, throw-away bags and Senate Bill 2349 which seeks to require retail stores to implement a plastic bag collection and recycling program.

Roxas. on the other hand, also agreed that “single-use plastics should be banned.” He added that  “a dialogue with the manufacturers and users will be convened to agree on viable alternatives and a timetable to make the shift to more environment-friendly bags.”

“We should go back to using reusable materials/items rather than disposables,” he said.

Roxas stated that the shift to using reusable bags and “biodegradable” plastics rather than the polypropylene and polyethylene plastic bags in many retail outlets will be further supported under his presidency.

While Santiago has a pending bill that will ban plastic microbeads in cosmetic and personal care products, Poe and Roxas expressed openness to imposing a ban of these tiny plastic particles, widely used as exfoliating agents, that are washed down the drains and into the oceans.

“On plastic microbeads in cosmetic and personal care products, we will have this issue studied by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Health, and for them to submit recommendations within our first 100 days,” stated Roxas.

Nelson Flores, J.D., MSCK
A former reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Standard Today, and a regular columnist of the Metro Manila based daily tabloid newspaper Hataw; Nelson Flores is also the former Senior Associate Editor of the Houston based Fil-Am Press and former anchor of dzXL and dzRJ's weekend talk show Usaping Bayan. Mr. Flores has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Law degrees from the University of Santo Tomas and Adamson University and a holder of a study certificate from the Diocesan House of Studies, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI). He is a Freemason and member of Reagan Lodge 1037 in Houston Heights under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas and a member of the Missionary Society of Christ the King (MSCK).

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