THE Philippine based EcoWaste Coalition, an environment and public health watchdog, warned the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority it could be liable for violating the law on open burning should it pushes through with its plan to burn goods seized from illegal vendors in the metropolis.
Aileen Lucero. EcoWaste national coordinator, reminded MMDA chairman Danilo Lim that even as the coalition supports his efforts to clear the flow of traffic in the metropolis, Republic Act 9003 (the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) clearly prohibits open burning. She added that violators of the law can be fined from P300 to P1,000 or imprisoned for one to 15 days, or both.
“As we are daily commuters ourselves, we support the government’s efforts to ease traffic congestion, especially along EDSA and other major roads. However, we ask the MMDA to drop its plan of burning the merchandises seized from non-compliant vendors as this will be tantamount to open burning, a prohibited act under Section 48 0f Republic Act 9003,” Lucero stressed.
“We appeal to all concerned parties to talk and find a ‘win-win’ set of solutions that will address both the livelihood requirements of the vendors and the need to keep Metro Manila’s busy roads obstruction-free,” she added.
As a member agency of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the MMDA is expected to promote compliance to RA. 9003 and not the other way around, Lucero reminded Lim.
Moreover, Lucero said, “aside from being punishable by law, the open burning of seized goods, carts, stalls, plastic tarps and sheets, wooden crates, corrugated boxes and the like will generate environmental pollutants that can harm human health.”
Among these environmental toxins are persistent organic pollutants or POPs such as dioxins and furans, which are byproducts of burning chlorinated materials, heavy metals like cadmium, lead and mercury, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, and microscopic particles, Lucero explained.
Lucero, quoting the World Health Organization, added that “air pollutants have been linked to a range of adverse health effects, including respiratory infections, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer.”
Instead of burning confiscated commodities and tools of trade, Lucero suggested that seized items be safely consumed or put to good use by giving it to social welfare and development institutions such as orphanages, homes for the elderly and other charitable groups.
Lim, in a bid to solve Metro Manila’s traffic woes, last week warned that the MMDA will burn seized goods from illegal vendors in Balintawak, Quezon City during clearing operations to prevent them from coming back and hamper the flow of traffic in the area, which is usually congested as it is a market place.