Green group salutes Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago

Ecowaste Coalition coordinator Aileen Lucero ©
Ecowaste Coalition coordinator Aileen Lucero ©

THE EcoWaste Coalition, an environment and public health watchdog, has joined the nation in honoring former Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who passed away Thursday morning in a hospital in Taguig City at the age of 71.

Through a statement posted in its website, the coalition hailed Santiago as their  “indefatigable champion at the Senate on waste and toxic issues.”

“In keeping with the pledge she made in 2010 to include hazardous chemicals in her legislative agenda, Miriam filed at least 75 bills and resolutions in the 15th and 16th Congress that tackled chemicals, products and wastes, which threaten maternal, child and environmental health,” said Aileen Lucero, the coalition’s national coordinator.

Among the environmental health bills that she filed, Lucero said, were a bill banning single-use plastic bags, a bill restricting cadmium, lead, mercury and hexavalent chromium in packaging and a bill establishing a Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry.

“Miriam distinguished herself as the senator with the sharpest eye for waste and toxic issues,” Lucero noted.

Moreover, Lucero added that in the last six years prior to the 2016 elections, Santiago pushed for legislative inquiries and measures on a litany of health and environmental topics raised by the EcoWaste Coalition – from Bisphenol A in children’s products, mercury in skin whitening cosmetics, lead in paints and products such as toys,  health hazard posed by loombands and toxic adhesive used in artificial nails.

More recently, Miriam advocated for the return of the illegal garbage shipments from Canada.

In response to an election survey questionnaire sent by the EcoWaste Coalition to all the 2016 presidential candidates, where she emerged as the “greenest,” Santiago declared that:  “We must not process the waste in the Philippines, as it sets a dangerous precedent. If we allow one country to turn the Philippines into a garbage dump, we are telling all other countries that they can do the same.”

She added: “If elected, I will invoke the Basel Convention to force Canada to take back the trash it dumped on Philippine soil.”

“Had she won the presidency, Miriam would have promoted the ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury in her first 100 days in office.  Had she won last May, she would have immediately rescinded the guidelines adopted by the National Solid Waste Management Commission allowing thermal waste-to-energy facilities in violation of the Clean Air Act’s ban on incineration,” Lucero pointed out.

“Miriam twice failed in her bid to become the President of the Republic of the Philippines, but in our heart of hearts Miriam was our legislative champion in building a toxic-free nation that we, the people, continue to fight for,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

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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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