The Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday said despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, it is still important not to neglect the management of waste, especially in quarantine facilities, lockdown areas and isolation centers.
CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said while national and local interventions during the pandemic are largely focused on protecting lives and economies, the management of waste is also essential to minimize long-term risks to human and environmental health.
In line with the celebration of the Philippine Environment Month, CHR lauded the effort of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in completing the closure of the 335 open dumps all over the country, and on its continued commitment to strictly enforce Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
“The environmental degradation we are exposed to in our daily lives can lead to very serious and continuing violations of our human rights. People’s health, food and water safety, housing, and overall well-being can be negatively affected by improper disposal of waste and hazardous materials,” she said.
De Guia cited health and environmental risks of the operation of illegal dumps, such as the contamination of soil and water, increased risks of natural disasters and health issues, and disruption of wildlife.
Unlike sanitary landfills, illegal dumps do not have built-in systems and constant monitoring for environmental safety, she said.
“Waste management requires integrated assessments and holistic approaches for its solution. While we support the successful efforts of the local government units in their crafting and implementation of their own local solid waste management plan, detailing their framework for reusing, recycling and composting waste in their jurisdiction, we emphasize that waste disposal system has to be simple and accessible for common people for it to work,” De Guia said.
She lamented that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the collection of waste from certain locations, such as in quarantine facilities, lockdown areas and isolation centers, pose a different set of hazards to local communities since they may be potentially infected with the coronavirus.
“In this view, the Commission calls for the stricter monitoring of LGU’s compliance with the National Solid Waste Management Commission’s Resolution No. 1364 series of 2020 or the Interim Guidelines on the Management of COVID-19 Related Health-Care Waste, especially that there is a notable increase in medical and personal protective equipment wastes,” the CHR official said.
“With or without the pandemic, CHR underscores that from national to household levels, there is an urgent call for waste management to be treated as essential public service. This will not only improve environmental sustainability and health outcomes but will surely contribute to the full enjoyment of our basic human rights,” she emphasized.