STRESSING that the death of marine creatures like the endangered turtles (pawikan) will threaten the country’s entire ecosystem, Senator Cynthia Villar urged the public to protect and maintain the cleanliness of their habitat—the oceans.
Villar, chairman of the Senate environment committee, said Friday the death of marine creatures would also have adverse effects on the people’s livelihood and food sources.
She said one of the ways to protect the oceans was to avoid throwing plastic garbage in the water systems.
In her capacity as Senate environment committee chair, Villar said she was working on amending the 17-year-old Ecological Solid Waste Management law to hold accountable manufacturers that dump plastic wastes in rivers and seas.
Last month, Villar said she attended a panel discussion in Singapore, organized by the European Union, which dealt on ensuring a plastic-free ocean.
She said among the concerns raised in the discussion was the amount of wastes that reached the oceans and eventually damaged the ecosystem and marine biodiversity.
On top of that, she noted in a statement that those wastes killed marine creatures, including endangered turtles, considered integral to the ecosystem as they keep sea grass beds healthy.
Based on a University of Georgia study, the Philippines ranked third, next to China and Indonesia among 192 countries surveyed, in terms of volume of plastic wastes produced by the population that could potentially enter the seas and oceans.
“That truly alarmed me because marine plastic wastes pose an extreme danger to our country’s marine natural resources,” said Villar, adding it was already among the common causes of the disease and death of animals.
“I am sure you have heard about increasing reports and incidents of whale sharks, turtles and other animals that get entangled in or ingest plastic wastes. We have seen photos of turtles hanging on [fish] nets or plastic straws stuck in their nostrils,” said Villar in her statement.
She described as “very timely” the recently-concluded 12th Meeting of Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals as biodiversity and the protection of animals were among the major topics discussed.
She said the story of how the Pawikan Conservation Project in Bataan started in 1999 was a very good one.
She said this was a good example on how the outlook of residents were changed by becoming more environmentally aware and better informed.