After the onslaught of Typhoon Odette at the island municipality of Araceli, Palawan. (PN File)

EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog group, has urged private companies, local governments, neighborhood associations, and others to postpone planned fireworks displays this Christmas and New Year in order to divert funds to victims of Typhoon Odette, which wreaked havoc on parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, including Puerto Princesa City and northern Palawan.

In a press statement, the group likewise asked politicians eyeing the 2022 elections to cut back on propaganda tarpaulins, including the ubiquitous “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” posters, and to use campaign savings to respond to the needs of disaster survivors.

“As the trail of wanton destruction caused by Typhoon Odette becomes more evident, we are called to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of people left homeless and hungry and in despair,” said Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Instead of igniting firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices, which can cause health and environmental effects, why not lend a hand to the calamity survivors who clamor for food, water, electricity and other essentials? Instead of putting up self-serving propaganda tarpaulins, why not engage in low-key, no-frills acts of kindness?,” he asked.

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“Post-Odette ‘bayanihan’ will bring a sparkle of hope to families whose lives and dreams were shattered by the pre-Christmas typhoon,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

According to the group, the money saved from canceling planned fireworks displays — or from reducing expenses for political tarpaulins — can be used to augment ongoing disaster response efforts, including providing survivors with Noche Buena or Media Noche “salo-salo” packs, water, hygiene kits, blankets and sleeping mats, fuel for generator sets, housing materials, farming and fishing tools, or startup capital for micro-business.

The reduced consumption of firecrackers and fireworks, as well as tarpaulins, will also contribute to a healthier and safer environment, noting the chemical and waste pollution associated with the production, use and disposal of such items, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

As of yesterday, over 130,000 families or some 400,000 individuals from Regions V, VI, VIII, X, XI, MIMAROPA and Caraga were affected by Typhoon Odette, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

As per the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, a total of 309,814 displaced persons, representing 81,595 families, were staying in 2,283 evacuation centers.

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