MANILA — Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Asia has sought the scrapping of House of Representatives Bill No. 2286 that seeks to repeal the ban on incineration and amend the Philippine Clean Air Act to allow the re-entry of Waste-to-Energy incineration technologies in the country.
In a news release issued Tuesday, HCWH Asia executive director Ramon San Pascual said the burning of bio-medical or infectious medical waste and plastic produces emissions, highly toxic dioxins, and furans that are “powerfully carcinogenic”.
“They are also known to lead to the impairment of the immune system, the development of the nervous system, the endocrine system and the reproductive functions,” San Pascual said.
Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) coordinator for Asia, Faye Ferrer, likewise said that they are “deeply concerned about the health and environmental hazards of bringing back incineration technologies, including waste-to-energy facilities.”
“Incineration may be cheap and convenient but the impact its emission makes is heavily inconvenient for human health and the environment,” Ferrer said.
According to the HCWH, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has cited the “non-implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 9003 (Philippine Clean Air Act) as the reason why incineration technologies are needed”.
The group said the DENR is pushing for something that would go against the fundamentals of the Clean Air Act of promoting a viable, clean and healthy air.
“We see that this move will ultimately take a huge step backwards from securing the well-being of Filipinos and the environment,” San Pascual said.
HCWH Asia has joined the anti-incineration organizations No Burn Pilipinas, EcoWaste, GAIA Asia Pacific, Mother Earth Foundation and other members of the #breakfreefromplastic network, in calling for the scrapping of House Bill 2286 and for local governments to reject incineration proposals and carry out their duty to implement fully RA 9003.
The group said that with GGHH as one of its banner programs, it had seen health facilities successfully transition to safer alternative waste treatment and management systems without resorting to burning.
House Bill 2286 was authored by Rep. Carlito Marquez of Aklan.
In his explanatory note, Marquez said “there is no scientific fact that (incinerators) emit over 200 toxic or potentially toxic substances, including dioxin and furans”.
He also said that it is “not correct to say that incinerators have high operating costs and pose environmental risks”.
“This proposed measure will pave the way for the necessary and modern solution to the perennial garbage problem that has been the major headache of the government and in the process would serve to attract more investors in the country,” Marquez wrote.
“The waste-to-energy projects will have safety features in consonance with the terms of reference based on its alleged advantages of greatly reduced waste volume, prolongation of the service life of the disposal site, and generation of electricity,” he added.