EcoWaste warns MMDA vs burning seized vendors’ wares

June 27, 2017 - 11:05 AM
A street food vendor grills on the road. (Reuters file)

MANILA, Philippines — While supporting government efforts to decongest Metro Manila’s clogged roadways, an environmental group warned the Metro Manila Development Authority against making good on threats to burn goods seized from illegal street vendors.

The warning was aired last week by MMDA chairman Danilo Lim during clearing operations in Balintawak, Quezon City.

However, Aileen Lucero, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, pointed out that burning seized wares would not only be harmful to health and the environment, it is also “a prohibited act under Republic Act 9003,” or the Philippine Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Section 48 of the law prohibits open burning of solid waste and penalizes this with fines of from P300 to P1,000 or imprisonment of one to 15 days, or both. As a member of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the MMDA is mandated to promote compliance of this law.

“Aside from being punishable by law, the open burning of seized goods, carts, stalls, plastic tarps and sheets, wooden crates, corrugated boxes and the like will generate environmental pollutants that can harm human health,” Lucero warned.

Among the pollutants are “persistent organic pollutants” such as “dioxins and furans, which are byproducts of burning chlorinated materials, heavy metals like cadmium, lead and mercury, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, and microscopic particles,” the group said.

Instead of burning the seized goods, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested these “be safely consumed or put to good use should be given to social welfare and development institutions such as orphanages, homes for the elderly and other charitable groups.”