Earth Day 2021: Government, communities unite in call to action to all Filipinos to care for the planet

April 22, 2021 Thursday

MANILA, 23 April 2021 — Government leaders, led by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, called on all Filipinos to work together to care for the planet and emphasized actions to reduce single-use plastic pollution in the country during the PINASiglang Mundo Earth Day Webcast hosted by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) on Thursday, April 22.
“This occasion reminds us of our inherent responsibility to take care of our planet,” Duterte said during the opening of the webcast.
“As we recover from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our lives and economy, let us always bear in mind that a healthy nation is anchored on a healthy and sound natural environment,” he added.
Finance Secretary and CCC Chairperson-Designate Carlos G. Dominguez lauded the presence of leaders from Congress and local government during the opening of the webcast, including House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Senator Cynthia Villar, and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines National President and Quirino Governor Dakila Carlo Cua.
“In the coming period, the National Government will be working intensively with Congress and local governments to achieve our commitments to the Paris Agreement,” Dominguez said.
“Our ambitious NDC underscores the urgency with which we view this greatest challenge facing the Earth today. We intend to be a strong signal to the international community to be more aggressive in addressing the deteriorating state of the planet,” he added.
“To jumpstart the fight against climate change, we are pushing for the passage of the bill that would ban single-use plastics. This is a major step to encourage every Filipino to do his or her part on a daily basis in helping save the Philippines’ and the world’s environment. We hope that Congress’ timely passage of this legislation will happen,” Dominguez said.
Senator Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change, and Governor Velasco vowed to work for the passage of a law to regulate single-use plastics in their respective messages for the webcast.
“If the Philippines is serious in helping restore the health of the Earth, I think we should start with a reduction of our plastic waste. It is here where our contribution as a nation to the healing of the Earth will be felt,” Villar said.
“I will strongly push for the passage of the bill institutionalizing EPR or the Extended Producers Responsibility mechanism as part of the country’s solid waste management system, and as a strategy to reduce the proliferation of single-use plastic that pollutes the environment,” Villar added.
“The task may seem to be a very great burden, yet we need to take steps before our land and ocean are overwhelmed with plastic waste and we are deprived of our much-needed food supply and balanced biodiversity,” Velasco said.
“We in the House of Representatives have committed to finding better and more efficient solutions to address the problem regarding pollution and climate change, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and be able to adjust to a sustainable new normal under these trying times,” he added.
Velasco also provided updates on the bill currently pending in the House tackling single-use plastics. The CCC has been advocating for the passage of the bill and lending its expertise as a House technical working group consolidated multiple bills filed by legislators, including Velasco.
“The bill is currently under consideration for second reading. Among the objectives are to protect life, both land and water, from hazards posed by plastic pollution and to ensure that non-compostable single-use synthetic plastic products deemed necessary to society do not leak into nature, and to discourage consumption of SUP products and promote circularity through reduction, reuse, and recycling of plastic trash,” Velasco said.
Meanwhile, Cua highlighted the work local governments are doing to tackle the plastic crisis all over the country.
“While our legislators are working hard on a national ban to address single-use plastics, some 489 cities, municipalities, and provinces have already resolved to stop or regulate the use of plastic bags altogether. Sana po tuluy-tuloy at umigting pa po ito,” Cua said.
Cua added that he hopes more Filipinos would express support for their local governments pushing for plastic-free communities, saying “Malaking bagay na makita na ‘yung constituents natin, hindi lang sumusunod kundi nangunguna pa po sa ating gawain tungo sa PINASiglang Mundo.” 
Presidential Proclamation No. 1481 in April 2008 declared April 22 as “Philippines’ Earth Day.” More than a billion people celebrate the event in over 190 countries around the world. This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth,” highlighting the role of every individual and member of the community to address the global climate crisis and its resulting effects on ecosystems, biodiversity, food and water, public health, industries, and communities.