PN File

Environment groups, people’s organizations, and concerned individuals filed a petition Thursday with the Supreme Court asking it to strike down Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2019-21 or the “Guidelines Governing Waste To Energy (WtE) Facilities for the Integrated Management of Municipal Solid Waste issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The EcoWaste Coalition said in a press statement sent to Palawan News that the petitioners contend that DAO 2019-21 is an invalid administrative order, its issuance and implementation will result in grave violations of the people’s Right to Health and the Right to a Balanced and Healthful Ecology as guaranteed by the Constitution, and that DENR violated the Public Trust Doctrine when it issued and implemented the administrative order.

Lawyers from the Philippine Earth Justice Center (“PEJC”) are representing the petitioners. The PEJC is a non-profit legal advocacy group that works to ensure that environmental laws are followed. The PEJC is involved in environmental law litigation and has represented clients in several major environmental disputes.

Ecowaste Coalition, a public interest and advocacy network of community, church, school, environmental, and health organizations, is one of the petitioners. It advocates for sustainable waste, climate change, and chemical problems.

The Ecowaste Coalition’s Senior Policy Officer, Atty. Lievj Alimangohan, stated in a statement that the network is gravely worried about the severe health, environmental, and economic consequences of WtE technologies and facilities.

“We filed the petition to stop the DENR from implementing DAO 2019-21. It is an invalid administrative order and, more importantly, its implementation will cause irreparable harm to human health and the environment,” he added.

Meanwhile, Coleen Salamat, an environmental advocate who works with grassroots organizations on waste and plastic issues, joined the petition as an individual co-petitioner.

“WTE facilities are false solutions and a tricky term to greenwash. This justifies the production of plastics when we should be reducing and eliminating them at the source. In the middle of a global pandemic, this will just add to the persistent health and climate crisis we are facing,” she said.

The petition also prays for the issuance of an Environment Protection Order (“EPO”) to immediately enjoin the implementation of DAO 2019-21.

Rei Panaligan of Plastic-Free Pilipinas Project explained that “WtE facilities merely transform the waste into other harmful substances, such as dioxins and furans. Dioxins and furans are highly toxic substances that cause cancer, diabetes, and chloracne”.

“Also, ​​WtE facilities emit high volumes of greenhouse gasses that accelerate climate change. This is why we need to immediately stop the implementation of the DENR’s WtE Guidelines,” she said.

Atty. Kristine Joy Argallon, who represents the petitioners said, “We hope that the Supreme Court will give due course to the petition and grant the reliefs prayed for. A favorable ruling by the Supreme Court will go a long way in the fight to protect the environment and in resisting false solutions to waste management”.