It's more fun without plastics in Davao

Subscribe Now May 15, 2012 at 11:03am

It seems the new promo tagline of the Department of Tourism "It's More Fun in the Philippines" is doing fine. DOT officials announced about 1.5 million visitors came in the first quarter of this year and more would be coming from Australia, America, UK, Japan and Korea, among other nations. I think among the most visited places are the Palawan underground cave which won the prestigious Seven New Wonders of the World tilt and the little town of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, for its super crocodile "Lolong." However, this projection may be clouded unless the raging territorial dispute between the Philippines and China will be solved amicably. At least 10 contingents of Chinese tourists have allegedly cancelled their trip to the country within the first week of May and travel agencies have feared for the worse scenario. Meanwhile, the Davao-based Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association is complaining that its banana has been refused entry into mainLand China. It becomes more evident the dispute of the two countries over ownership of Scarborough Shoal is a serious national issue that needs international intervention. China made claim to the contested group of islets as part of their territory including the whole of the Philippine archipelago, if we are to believe the assertion of one Chinese media commentator.

But whatever happened in the national scene, life grinds as usual locally. Dr. Jean Lindo, a prominent environmentalist posted this message on my Facebook wall: "It is fun to be living in Davao." Her declaration stems from city hall's announcement of implementing by June of this year City Ordinance 0361, Series of 2010, otherwise known as the Davao City Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance of 2009. Councilor Melchor Quitain, one of the sponsors, delivered a privilege speech during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod last Tuesday calling for the implementation of the ordinance after almost three years of hibernation. He said during a media interview that it was time to implement the law after several years of preparation and public information and dissemination. The ordinance disallowed the use of nonbiodegradable plastic materials and polysterene foam or commonly known as styro-foam as food and food item packaging in the city. Atty. Felizarta, chief of the City Environment and Natural Resources, suggested that instead of using plastic bags and containers, Dabawenyos would make do with the old-fashioned "bayong" or "buyot," banana leaves, abaca and paper bags, or the new "biodegradable plastic bags and containers." Old folks would agree that plastic bags were unheard of before. During my childhood days stores and market stalls used paper bags for our rice and "tahup" for our hogs. This move of the city council is in line with the government's commitment to reduce carbon footprints and to avert the ill effects of climate change. An expert on climate change from UP Diliman who lectured during a forum at the Ateneo de Davao University said the effect of climate change was irreversible at this point in time. "Scientists are now contemplating on global-scale geoengineering and bioengineering measures to ensure the protection of health and environment of the planet in the long-term", she said. Other geoengineering measures that are in the scientists' do-list are Arctic engineering-presumably to curtail the abrupt melting of icebergs, and Heat transport-presumably a project of laying large vertical pipe systems in oceans and deep sea floors to pump cooler water upward to cool the planet, among other alternative measures.

Let's brace together and pray harder to avert this modern day "clash of David and Goliath" and the devastating effects of climate change. Certainly the conflict brought about by the territorial claim of China of its neighboring isLands and islets will not be settled in our local courts. This will be better resolved in the halls of the International Court of Justice or other international mediating bodies. This political conflict may be beyond us ordinary Pinoys but definitely we can do something about climate change. The prohibition of the use of non-biodegradable plastic as proposed by Councilor Quitain, also dean of UM Law School, is a right move to undertake that we have to support.


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