MANILA— Environmental groups and advocates on Friday hailed the decision of the Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Kalikasan against the government regarding the sale and manufacturing of plastic products, describing it as a "huge step" in protecting the environment.
The High Court, in its resolution last Dec. 7, also acted to issue a Writ of Continuing Mandamus, which would compel various government agencies to act and respond to the country's solid waste management problem, which advocates believe has been neglected.
But the SC denied the petitioners' prayer for a Temporary Environmental Protection Order on the distribution, selling, and creation of the plastic products they identified.
Petitioners had argued plastics of the following nature should be stopped from being produced and distributed:
- disposable plastics
- plastic products that contain bisphenol A, phthalates and other known endocrine disrupting chemicals
- plastics that have "persistent organic pollutants" classified in the Stockholm Convention
- plastic products that are not reusable, not biodegradable or compostable
- non-recyclable plastics
- plastics that are toxic or hazardous to the environment
The case will now be referred to the Court of Appeals for the acceptance of the verified return and comment and for hearing, reception, of evidence, and rendition of judgment.
In late October, at least 50 individuals from Oceana Philippines, Filipino scientists, and fisherfolk filed the petition against the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) and other government officials, after supposedly abandoning the country's solid waste management laws.
Named as respondents in the petition were Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, acting Public Works Secretary Roger Mercado, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Agriculture Secretary William Dar, among other Cabinet members.
HUGE STEP VS PLASTIC CRISIS
Petitioners earlier said that if the Supreme Court grants the Writ of Kalikasan, it could make a "stronger" case and protection for the environment, and would also fast track the "effective resolution of a case involving the violation of one's constitutional right to a healthful and balanced ecology."
In a statement, Oceana Vice President Gloria Ramos welcomed the Supreme Court's decision as it could help change the mindset of Filipinos towards plastic products.
The move, Ramos said, also sets a "solid foundation" in battling the country's plastic problem.
"This is indeed a very special case that merits the attention and needed action from every Filipino.... This sets a... precedent upon which we can build our collective efforts to battle the plastic crisis that continues to threaten our natural world including our ocean, food security, livelihood and health,” she added.
Lawyer Camille Parpan, the petitioners' counsel, said the High Court's decision indicates their "human stewardship of the planet."
The Philippines is one of the biggest plastic polluter in the planet, contributing over a third of the plastic waste in the world's oceans, a study this year found.
The House of Representatives in late July passed a measure that seeks to gradually phase out the production, sale, and use of single-use plastics.
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