NAGA CITY --- Materials made of plastic and polystyrene, such as sando bags, cups, plates, straws, and utensils will no longer be allowed inside the city hall premises, particularly inside its offices under the jurisdiction of the city government.
Last Monday, July 8, City Mayor Nelson S. Legacion issued Executive Order No. 2009-026 which bans the use of non-biodegradable plastics and polystyrene (i.e. styrofoam) in all city government-led events, meetings and gatherings.
The pertinent provisions of the mayor’s order follow:
“SECTION 1. Ban in the use of non-biodegradable plastic and polystyrene. Bags, straws, cups, plates and utensils made of non-biodegradable plastics and/or polystyrene are hereby prohibited to be used in the packaging and/or serving of food in all city-government-led events, meetings and/or gatherings. Thus, henceforth, catering service providers shall utilize porcelains, papers, bioplastics, bagasse and/or other eco-friendly alternatives in the transportation, packing and provision of food. A provision to this effect shall be provided in the corresponding catering or supply contract. Ensuring the incorporation of the desired provision in the contract shall be the primary responsibility of the department or office head concerned.
“SECTION 2. Incentive to Innovative Eco-Friendly Ideas. City government personnel and/or office that will be able to introduce or successfully pilot groundbreaking mechanisms or procedures towards the city’s shift to the use of econ-friendly bags, straws, cups, plates and utensils shall be provided with incentives in accordance with the duly-approved Program on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence (PRAISE). Among the criteria for the incentives are the cost mechanism, its novelty as well as its impact.”
As correctly pointed out in Legacion’s EO, experience shows and studies confirm that non-biodegradable plastics and polystyrene clog drainage systems and waterways leading to worsening of flood problems and degrading our natural environment.
The EO also emphasizes that the City Government of Naga commits to intensify its efforts on environmental conservation, as exuded on its new brand of city leadership duly-displayed in the thematic colors of blue and green in all its official correspondence and promotional banners and paraphernalia.
Meanwhile, in his privilege speech during last Tuesday’s regular session of the Sangguniang Panglunsod, City Councilor and Bicol Mail editor-in-chief (on leave) Joe Perez said that with the EO’s release and with it taking effect starting on the same day last July 8, 2019, the ball is now in the court of the city council to expand the noble intent’s coverage.
Perez said “it would be ridiculous if plastics are banned inside city hall but not outside of it where the barbarians, forgive the word, continue, without remorse or mercy, to throw around plastics, polystyrene and other non-biodegradable materials because we simply do not have a city ordinance banning the mindless consumption of these toxic materials.”
It should be recalled that the Sangguniang Panglungsod for considerable years now had spent more time to craft a proposed ordinance seeking to regulate the use of plastics in the city.
Perez said that it cannot be denied that wastes in the city are mostly composed of piles of plastic and other non-biodegradable materials.
“They [plastics] continue to litter our streets, choke our canals and drainage systems, pollute and kill our rivers and waterways, and make mountains out of mole hills of plastic bags, shampoo sachet, and candy wrappers,” the newly-elected city councilor said, adding that the threat to the environment and health is too obvious to ignore and the people’s helplessness to save Mother Earth is becoming shamelessly disconcerting.
Perez told the body in his speech that he was informed by his colleague, City Counciulor Salvador del Castillo, who chairs the SP Committee on Environment, that in the past Sanggunaing Panglunsod, the weak points and strong points of the proposed ordinance had been raised and discussed and all concerned accordingly consulted.
According to Councilor Del Castillo, Perez said, the committee was committed to come up with a desired measure that is fair, workable and implementable among the affected sectors, in particular, and the consuming public, in general.
Del Castillo said the city’s proposed ordinance was nearing its completion and would have been submitted for approval but time constraints in the final stages of the legislative process had somehow stood in the way due in part to the campaign period then obtaining.
Perez urged that such ordinance be passed immediately even as he believed that his colleagues in the council are of the same sentiment.
“Every hour, every day that we do not have a citywide law banning the use of plastics would mean kilos and piles of more plastics being thrown away in the streets, in the rivers and canals, and in our sewerage system, as well as in the uncaring mindset and irresponsible habit of some of our people. Many of us do not realize hat while plastics appear convenient in our daily grinds, it takes thousands of years for them to decay.”
“The Philippines has been rated as one of the world’s top polluters of the ocean and the sea. The wastes come from the plastic and polystyrene that runs off from our rivers and canals, the Naga River undeniably included,” Perez stressed.
For his part, Del Castillo informed the body that the ordinance that he authored that seeks to regulate the use of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials in the city had been refilled with the assumption and convening of the new Sangguniang Panglunsod.
He then added when the proposed ordinance was presented on first reading on that same day that he is inviting Councilor Perez to be co-author of the refiled measure to which the latter gladly accepted.
Perez then concluded that “by regulating the use of plastic, and for better measure banning them, we are not only saving our city but helping save the world as well.”