DECLARATION | Paglaum Ecology Network (PEN) on Davao City’s Waste-to-Energy (WTE) Incineration Project

0 file photo of Medel V. Hernani

Paglaum Ecology Network (PEN) statement on Councilor Tek Ocampo’s submitted resolution calling for President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to provide counter-funding for construction of proposed Waste-to-Energy (WTE) facility in Davao City to provide.

We address this statement to the Honorable Temujin B. (Tek) Ocampo, Chairman of the Environmental Committee of the Davao City LGU, and to all other members of the Davao City Sangguniang Panlungsod. This is in response to Councilor Ocampo filing a resolution on Aug. 24, 2022, asking President Bongbong Marcos Jr. to provide P3.486 billion in counterfunding to build the proposed incinerated waste (WTE) project to address the waste problem tackle the city.

We are a group of very concerned citizens of the city belonging to religious communities, parishes, Catholic schools, youth groups and NGOs that are members of the Paglaum Ecology Network (PEN). Our environmental advocacy and commitment is inspired by our Christian faith, and we believe that one of the ways we express our commitment to faith is by engaging in environmental issues and taking specific action to protect the environment.

We continue to be inspired by the admonitions of Pope Francis and our bishops. On a number of occasions, Pope Francis has pointed out the culture of waste and how this culture has led to waste management problems. In his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, he suggested that today we “should enter into a new dialogue about how we shape the future of our planet and that the work of protecting the environment, authentically understood and practiced, is a Catholic duty”. Because “the earth, our homeland, seems to be turning more and more into a huge garbage dump”, which “is closely linked to the culture of waste and affects the people left behind so much when things quickly become garbage. ”

On the other hand, the 2021 Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) statement pointed out that “we continue to suffer from increasing global warming and an ailing biosphere triggered by exploitative practices that benefit the wealthy few but poverty for many and create hunger…Proposed measures and policies to address the impact of this crisis should always prioritize social and environmental justice. As one of the most vulnerable nations in this era of global emergency, the Philippines has a moral imperative to pursue the most sustainable development path possible for the benefit of current and future generations and to ensure that the voices of all are heard.”

We hope that our city officials will listen to our voices on what we believe is the right way to deal with the waste management issue. We do not agree with you, Sir Ocampo, what you have quoted in the media, where you said: “One technology used worldwide is Waste-to-Energy or WTE, which not only significantly reduces the volume of waste sent to landfill, but also contribute and provide one of the most important resources, namely energy.”

Like many other institutions and groups that have made their own statements on this issue, we believe that the WTE incinerator project is NOT the right solution to an urgent problem we are facing now and which will only get worse in the years to come could. Various reasons have already been given, including the following: WTE has been shown to cause health and environmental problems based on experience in a number of countries, it contributes to climate change (as it uses fossil-based plastics as a feedstock for power generation), it involves huge investments , which then contribute to increasing foreign debt, threatens the job security of waste workers, clearly violates some existing environmental laws, we are hampered in dealing with emissions (of dioxin, furan and other toxic by-products) associated with high technical expertise, which we do not have and there was very little consultation with the community before approving this project, although no environmental certification (ECC) was obtained. Alongside all of this, it can encourage further wasteful consumption as citizens are tricked into believing that it is okay to produce waste since WTE requires waste to produce energy.

It’s not like our only choice is to push this WTE project. But the fact is, there are other alternatives, including asking the city government to continue with the Zero Waste program, which emphasizes reducing waste and diverting waste from landfill or incinerator through banning single-use plastics and implementing segregation Source and support community initiatives for reuse, composting and recycling. We already have a regulation banning single-use plastics; it is important to strengthen the will of the LGU to implement the regulation. Capacity building at barangays and increasing the commitment and capacity of waste workers can also be a means to this end.

Therefore, we would like to ask you, ladies and gentlemen of our SP, very much:

1. Cancel all Waste Incineration Projects (WTE) and reject WTE proposals from both foreign and local investors.

2. Eliminate WTE incineration from the 10-year solid waste management plan.

3. Invest in true zero waste solutions.

As men and women of faith – whether Christian or of another faith tradition – we hope that you will share with us the dream of ensuring that we contribute to the protection of Mother Earth for the benefit of our children and their children’s children. As the popular saying goes, “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Members of the Paglaum Ecology Network
Davao city


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