MANILA - Sixty percent of plastic garbage found on the shores of Pag-asa Island did not come from the local community, a UP Marine Science Institute study showed.
The survey, led by country's top oceanographer and marine scientist Deo Florence Onda, showed that majority of the plastics are from neighboring countries Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China.
"Kung titingnan mo yung label ng mga plastic makikita mo na galing sila sa Vietnam, Malaysia, China, at Indonesia. Ibig sabihin yung basura dito ay di galing sa isla mismo kundi pinapadpad ng tubig mula sa Pag-asa. Mahalaga ito kasi yung effort para iprotect ang Pag-asa Island ay dapat regional," he said.
The study is part of the Upgrade CIA project led by UP Marine Institute, which aims to gain a better understanding of the relatively unexplored Kalayaan Island Group.
Coastal cleanups in Pag-asa Island are being done by residents every Sunday. Every week, they gather more than 10 sacks of plastic garbage alone.
The garbage problem in Pag-asa is quite worrisome because most residents bury their garbage in small backyard landfills. Experts say that if there will be no system in place to recycle plastics, soon, residents will run out of space to bury their garbage.
Dr. Onda said their findings should prompt the government to invite neighboring countries to create plans to address environmental issues.
"Mahalaga ito kasi yung effort para iprotect ang Pag-asa ay dapat regional."
"Hindi lang Pag-asa kundi buong Kalayaan Island Group. Isa ito sa dapat na basehan, isa ito sa basis na pwede nating maimbitahan ang ibang bansa para makapag trabaho sa atin. Setting aside the disputes on territory, we can come up with a plan and invite them to the negotiating table to actually talk about environmental issues kasi lahat tayo apektado dito," he said.
"I think we have to recognize the fact na yung Pag-asa hindi na sya uninhabited island, na lumalaki na 'yung komunidad. I think we have to invest more sustainable approaches, more sustainable methods, and more sustainable living systems dito sa isla. Sana kahit ganon kaaga, mapagtuunan natin ng pansin 'yun. That's on the very small scale."
Dr. Onda also said the government must resolve to create and implement laws that will manage the problem of plastic pollution in the West Philippine Sea.
"On the larger scale, ang Pilipinas meron pa lang tayong dinadraft na law on marine litter."
"Wala pa tayong maraming batas na nakatutok sa plastics, meron tayong initial na batas pero wala tayong basehan, wala tayong pag-aaral, and I think that's call to action na we have to support more research, not just on plastics itself but on the status of the entire South China Sea, and the West Philippine Sea," he said.