|STATEMENT ON THE APRIL 19 PROTEST ACTION AGAINST WTE INCINERATION |
Waste-to-energy incineration: a threat to the lives of Davaoeños
On April 19, 2022, thirty environmental advocates conducted a peaceful protest against the proposed waste-to-energy (WTE) incinerator in Davao City. The facility poses serious threats to public health and environmental safety of residents, schoolchildren, workers, and the city’s urban ecology.The protest, held in front of the Sanggunian Panlungsod, called for the LGU and the Davao City Council to:
(1) Reject the costly and polluting WTE incineration project (2) Support genuine Zero Waste solutions.What was meant to be a peaceful mobilization was disrupted by the forceful dispersal by members of the San Pedro Police Station. As the group was about to leave, two newly-arriving police officers snatched our banners and tore our placards.Before their arrival, our presence and program were known by surrounding police officers, who even watched us set up our placards and banners for the photo op. Towards the end, when we were leaving to distribute flyers, the aforementioned two police officers acted with aggression. They would not allow us to leave, and our fellow advocates were being “invited” to the police station, in purported violation of the ‘no permit, no protest’ policy in front of the SP building.That we had not secured a permit for the activity does not justify the heavy-handed actions of the police officers. The protest was already ending and the participants were already departing. The use of force and threats was unnecessary. Moreover, we were unaware of the need to secure a permit as we were informed of an activity held just this month in which the group was not asked for a permit and was allowed to conduct their program. Pre-pandemic, we were also able to hold sit-down protests without this tension.The police officers claimed that they were only doing their duty, but we ask: Does ths duty include creating an atmosphere of tension and harassment by their tone and actions? Does this duty include curtailment of free speech, and cutting the distribution of educational flyers on the sidewalk? The Davao we know is a city of open spaces for dialogue and respect for civic rights. The actions done by members of the Davao City Police is an affront not only to the environmental advocates present but also to the Davaoeños who will be affected by the WTE incinerator.Let us not lose sight of what are serious violations and what clear and present danger we are all in: 1. The WTE incineration project violates the Clean Air Act of 1999 (RA 8749).The law prohibits incineration precisely because of known and documented toxic by-products (products of incomplete combustion) that our country has committed to reduce under the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) Treaty of 2001.These toxic by-products could potentially reach 20 barangays in Davao, namely, Angalan, Balengaeng, Biao Escuela, Biao Guianga, Callawa, Catalunan Grande, Langub, Los Amigos, Matina Biao, Mintal, New Carmen, New Valencia, Riverside, Sto Nino, Tacunan, Tagakpan, Talandang, Tugbok, Ula, and Waan.An incinerator near these largely agricultural communities could potentially contaminate our food, and pollute our air and waters.2. The WTE incineration project violates the RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Act of 2000.The law explicitly excludes incineration as part of ecological waste management practice, and prioritizes waste avoidance/reduction and materials recovery in every barangay.Today, not even 10% of the total barangays of Davao City have functional materials recovery facilities (MRFs). Setting up MRFs (including composting), and hiring community resource collectors and waste workers could help clear the waste stream of 80 to 90% of our current waste load. The reason why the city landfill is full is because of the dismal implementation of materials recovery at the barangay level. The reason why Davao Gulf is fast becoming a plastics ocean is because we have not seriously implemented the ban on single-use plastics. A sound implementation of ESWM and single-use plastic ban would remove the need for a climate-damaging incinerator.3. The WTE incineration project lacks fiscal soundness and responsibility.For 2022, 72% (or 774 million) of the Php 1.07 billion funds intended by DENR for solid waste management, will be allotted solely for the construction of the WTE incinerator in Davao. This means that the rest of the country will have to get by with the measly 28% of the total funds for solid waste management.The Davao City LGU also admitted that the profitability of the incinerator is low. To offset this, the garbage tipping fee will have to increase which we the public will then shoulder.4. The WTE incineration project lacks technical soundness for environmental safety.The proposed technology also has so many issues flagged by scientists and experts, part of which is that 1) it will use an old Japanese technology (grate-stoker furnace) that is incapable of burning waste at a safe temperature, and that 2) it lacks expensive scrubbers and filters for safer operation. Our government also has limited technical and financial capacity to regularly monitor emissions such as dioxin, furan, and other toxic WTE by-products. Finally, WTE incineration will only exacerbate climate change as meeting its required daily volume feed is antithetical to waste reduction, especially plastics production. By 2050 when global plastics production will have tripled, plastics will eat up 13% of our planet’s total carbon budget – equivalent to the emission of 615 power stations. With the worsening climate crisis and extreme weather conditions already heavily impacting the poorest and most marginalized communities, our calls remain: CLIMATE ACTION NOW! NO TO WASTE-TO-ENERGY INCINERATION, GO FOR ZERO WASTE!DEFEND CLEAN AIR, AND PUSH FOR CLEAN AND RENEWABLE ENERGY!We call on fellow Davaoenos to join us in our campaign for genuine Zero Waste solutions. While incineration is a tempting solution to the growing garbage crisis, its risks outweigh its supposed benefits. True Zero Waste solutions are sustainable and safe. These come in the form of:1. Building the capacity of barangays and uplifting waste workers so they can implement the important provisions of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act such as segregation-at-source, composting, and recycling.2. Implementing the Single-Use Plastic Ban Ordinance in order to reduce the volume of residual waste in the city.3. Helping businesses set up accessible and affordable refill, reuse, and return-deposit systems; and subsidizing existing Zero Waste stores and refilling stations.
There is no more time left to waste. We have already lost and continue to lose so many lives due to climate disasters and pollution. Help us #LetTheEarthBreathe and join us as we collectively demand for systemic solutions to the climate crisis.Sign our petition: https://www.bataris.org.ph/petitions/cancel-wte-incineration-in-davao-go-for-genuine-zero-waste-solutions#NoToDavaoWTE#GoForZeroWasteDavao#ClimateActionNow#ClimateNeutrality2050
Sustainable Davao MovementApril 20, 2022ReplyForward