“get the lead out for our children’s health” as Filipino children join
worldwide action vs. lead poisoning
By EcoWaste Coalition
October 19, 2014
MANILA CITY – More
than one hundred kids and parents today gathered at Rizal Park – the
country’s premier national park – at the launch of the weeklong global
movement to protect children from lead, a toxic chemical that can
permanently damage a child’s brain even at low doses.
Organized by the EcoWaste
Coalition, an environmental network for zero waste, chemical safety
and public health, the event also marked the release of a European
Union-funded report about lead levels in dust obtained from 21
locations in five cities in Metro Manila, including residential homes,
day-care centers and preparatory schools where children spend much
time, and might be exposed to high levels of lead.
Co-hosted by the National
Parks Development Committee, the event commenced the Philippines’
celebration of the 2nd International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of
Action (October 19-25) organized by the Global Alliance to Eliminate
Lead Paint, a joint undertaking by the World Health Organization and
the United Nations Environmental Programme.
The event saw parents and
kids parade around the park, accompanied by youth drummers and
campaigners brandishing a banner that said “Get the Lead Out for Our
Children’s Health.” The group then assembled at the Children’s
Playground to learn about lead poisoning through pep talks and fun
games, which highlighted the need to keep the children’s environment
safe from lead hazard.
“Our assembly today is in
support of the growing local and global action to protect children’s
brains and enhance the health conditions of all children by preventing
and reducing childhood exposure to toxic lead. Our government, the
paint industry, the healthcare sector and civil society are working
together to remove lead paint in the market and help create a
conducive lead-safe environment for our children and our children’s
children,” said Jeiel Guarino, Communications and Policy Officer for
the Lead Paint Elimination Project, EcoWaste Coalition.
In a message sent to the
EcoWaste Coalition, Secretary Enrique Ona stated that “the Department
of Health (DOH) fully supports the global and local efforts to prevent
and reduce maternal, fetal and childhood exposure to lead, a chemical
that has no vital use in the human body, which can inflict
irremediable harm to the developing brain and the central nervous
system even at low level toxicity.”
“We particularly support the
ongoing phase-out of lead-based paints in the Philippine market as
this will drastically reduce the risk from lead paint chips and dust,
which are recognized as major sources of children’s exposure to lead.
Eliminating preventable sources of lead exposure in our homes, schools
and communities, including toys and childcare articles, will have a
huge impact in protecting our children’s brains and their overall
health and benefit the society as a whole,” Secretary Ona said.
“Lead exposure at an early
age can cause harmful lifelong impacts on a child’s developing brain
and impair rapid growth and development, making it crucial for
environmental lead hazards such as lead paint chips, dust and soil be
reduced, if not carefully eliminated, to protect children from the
adverse health effects of lead exposure,” said Dr. Bessie Antonio, a
pediatrician from the East Avenue Medical Center, who spoke at the
The World Health
Organization’s report on “Childhood Lead Poisoning” states that “these
effects are untreatable and irreversible because the human brain has
little capacity for repair, causing diminution in brain function and
reduction in achievement that last throughout life.”
The lead dust report
released by EcoWaste Coalition, entitled “Lead in Household Dust in
the Philippines,” provides examples of lead dust levels in sampled
locations, and demonstrates why the use of lead-containing decorative
paints is a source of serious concern, especially for children’s
health. For instance, the study found two preparatory schools with
dust lead levels above the 40 μg/ft2 dust lead limit in floors in
housing defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) as a dust-lead hazard, with one prep school registering as high
as 110 μg/ft2 dust lead level.
“Children are not generally
exposed to lead from new paint while the paint is still in the can or
when the paint is being newly applied to a previously unpainted or
uncoated surface. However, as paint on household surfaces chips, wears
and deteriorates over time, lead present in the deteriorating paint is
released and contaminates surrounding surfaces. In this way, lead in
the paint will end up in the household dust and soil surrounding the
house,” the report said.
The report concluded with a
set of recommendations addressed to various stakeholders. In
particular, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the government to:
• Ensure strict compliance
and enforcement of the Chemical Control Order on Lead and Lead
Compounds, issued by the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources, which prohibits the use of lead in all types of paint
beyond 90 ppm (dry weight).
• Establish strong
enforcement measures, including periodic monitoring, to ensure paint
companies are in compliance with the lead in paint limit and the
specific phase-out periods for leaded decorative and industrial
• Provide incentives to
paint companies to swiftly transition from lead to non-lead paint
• Require paint can labels
with sufficient information indicating the lead content and provide a
warning of possible lead dust hazards when disturbing painted
• Source only lead safe
paints for interiors and exteriors of public buildings and amenities
(e.g., parks and playgrounds), government-sponsored housing, schools,
day-care centers, medical and sports facilities among others.
• Facilitate training on
lead-safe working practices when applying paint to previously painted
Given the high lead dust
levels found in some preparatory schools, the report further
recommended that the Department of Education, along with the DENR, the
Department of Health and public interest stakeholders, to embark on an
investigative study on lead paint hazards in the public educational
The EcoWaste Coalition-led
campaign in the Philippines is part of a seven-country Asian Lead
Paint Elimination Project by IPEN, a global civil society network
promoting safe chemical policies and practices to protect human health
and the environment.
The European Union has
provided a grant of P75 million to IPEN for its three-year project
that is concurrently being carried out in Bangladesh, India,
Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Philippines.
Groups mount the
country’s largest ‘food art’ to demand government support for
October 18, 2014
QUEZON CITY – Today,
Greenpeace and other civic groups – composed of farmers, mothers,
health advocates, organic consumers and traders and policy makers –
came together to celebrate the country’s rich and diverse agricultural
heritage. Using ecologically produced fruits and vegetables, the
groups created a giant ‘food art’ installation and rallied on
Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to promote
Ecological Agriculture, instead of risky Genetically Modified
“Filipinos all over the
country are seeing the need to stand up and protect our diversified
food crops by demanding for government’s support for Ecological
Agriculture- highly vital in addressing food security and health
issues like malnutrition and Vitamin A deficiency,” said Daniel M.
Ocampo, Ecological Agriculture Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines.
“With the Philippines’ thriving Ecological Agriculture and the growing
demand for it, there is simply no room and no need for GMOs such as
Greenpeace organized the
colourful affair on the heels of World Food Day. The event saw
participants creating a giant food Mandala made up of 1,000 kilos of
common fruits and vegetables, spread out across 100 square meters of
the Quezon Memorial Circle, making it the largest ‘food art’ in the
country. Mandala is Sanskrit for circle, denoting ‘wholeness’. The
Mandala concept was used to demonstrate how Ecological Agriculture, a
farming system that works in harmony with nature and bridges
indigenous knowledge systems with developments in modern science and
technology has long provided Filipinos with safe, complete and diverse
Unlike GMOs which present
risks to public health and the environment, Ecological Agriculture
supports biodiversity in farms to produce diverse foods, ensuring a
holistic approach to malnutrition and addressing not only a single
nutrient deficiency but providing other nutrients most needed by
pregnant women and children.
“I fully support initiatives
that promote Ecological Agriculture because it empowers citizens to
plant, grow and harvest their own food that is clean, grown naturally
and free from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers,” said Senator
Cynthia Villar, a strong advocate of urban gardening using composts
from household wastes as fertilizers.
“By all accounts, Ecological
Agriculture is what is most preferred and what is most needed here in
the Philippines, especially to address nutrient deficiencies among
women and children,” said Velvet Roxas, Deputy Executive Director of
ARUGAAN, a group that has been promoting diverse diets and indigenous
foods. “It is sad that Secretary Alcala keeps on promoting ‘Golden’
rice to supposedly combat Vitamin A deficiency, but what about the
other nutritional requirements that our bodies need on a daily basis?”
“The solution is already
present; we don’t need to look far. The DA has to divert its support
away from GMOs and bring it back to where it should belong – to
Ecological Agriculture,” said Pangging Santos, Program Manager for
Integrated Health and Development Project of SARILAYA. “We call on the
Department of Agriculture, to heed farmers’ advice and give their full
support to small family farms so that together we can achieve food and
nutrition security for the country.”
“GMOs like ‘Golden’ rice are
nothing but mere illusions. Supporting GMOs through research and
development just takes away valuable resources that should have been
dedicated to the development and promotion of already available
solutions to nutritional deficiency. Secretary Alcala should act now –
stop further GMO approvals and shift the DA’s support to a more
meaningful and effective implementation of the National Organic Act,”
survivors’ weary celebration of the World Food Day
October 16, 2014
TACLOBAN CITY –
Today, communities all around the globe is observing World Food Day in
celebration of “Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the
This year’s theme recognizes
the vital role, contribution, the great importance of small farming
families and communities to global food security. For the Landless
Yolanda Survivors – Katarungan (Kilusan para sa Repormang Agraryo at
Katarungang Panlipunan) Eastern Visayas, this year’s World Food Day
theme is only but a concept. How can they celebrate with the rest of
the world if they cannot even provide their families adequate food?
Denying farmers’ land
rights, denies their Right to Adequate Food
The Right to Adequate Food
is an internationally recognized right of each individual. The Right
to Adequate Food It is the Right for food to be Accessible, Available,
In its General Comment No.
12, the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) of
the United Nations succinctly and authoritatively defined: “The right
to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone or
in community with others, has physical and economic access at all
times to adequate food or means to its procurement.”
“The right to have regular,
permanent and unrestricted access, either directly or by means of
financial purchases, to quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and
sufficient food corresponding to the cultural traditions of the people
to which the consumer belongs, and which ensure a physical and mental,
individual and collective, fulfilling and dignified life free of
fear,” CESCR states further.
To produce their own food,
farmers need land, water and other resources. Therefore, the
government, as state party to the international covenant to protect,
respect and fulfill the citizens’ right to adequate food is
responsible in enabling farmers to maximize the lands’ potential to
the fullest in producing for themselves and their families adequate
food or the nutrition required by the human body.
In their quest for land,
Katarungan Eastern Visayas farmers who are beneficiaries of the “dead”
CLOAs (Certificate of Land Ownership Award), engaged the Agrarian
Reform Program Officers in dialogues and were promised untangling
problems in releasing the Land Titles. Farmers have long submitted
necessary documents needed as what was required of them. Yet, only a
few hundreds were distributed.
In an interview with ABS-CBN
last October 7, 2014, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Regional
Director Atty. Sheila Enciso promised to fast track the release of
CLOAs before the year ends. To this, Katarungan Eastern Visayas farmer
leader of LSBDA (Leyte Sab-A Basin Development Authority) land,
Villamor Urena retorts “narinig na namin ‘yan. Magbibigay ng kaunti
tapos bibilang ka ng taon wala na ulit. Mukhang hindi na kayang ayusin
dito sa region, kailangan na sa Kongreso na idulog ito.”
The “dead” CLOAs, until
revived and distributed represent a continuing violation of every
Filipinos’ right to adequate food.
The Philippine government,
being a state party to the international covenant on economic, social
and cultural rights (ICESCR), and the attached agencies, in fulfilling
the Landless Yolanda farmers’ right to adequate food, has the key
• respect the farmers’
unrestricted access to the land and other support services;
• protect the interests of
the farmers and ensure that no individuals or government agencies, in
the case of the “dead” CLOAs, deprive their access to land and
adequate food by the slow implementation of the agrarian reform
• fulfill or facilitate the
completion of the distribution of CLOAs that will ensure the farmers’
access to support services from other national government agencies,
international and national government organizations that are involved
in the rehabilitation of Region 8 after Yolanda.
Katarungan Eastern Visayas
is calling on the national government to intervene, on their behalf,
in the early resolution of the issues they are now facing. The
government, after all, has the obligation to implement the right to
adequate food directly, in the failure of the agencies in doing so.
General Comment No. 12 of the CESCR specifically states that
government intervention apply “for persons who are victims of natural
or other disasters.”
To deny farmers their own
land, is tantamount to denying farming families and the entire nation
their right to adequate food.
RAFI to hold forum
on risks and climate change impacts
By Ramon Aboitiz Foundation
October 15, 2014
CEBU CITY – To help
the public in assessing risks and managing the impacts of climate
change amid the increasing unpredictability and variability of weather
patterns, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) - Eduardo Aboitiz
Development Studies Center (EADSC) will hold a forum on “Assessing
Risks and Managing Climate Change Impacts” on October 28, 2014.
The forum will start at 2
p.m. at the Eduardo Aboitiz Plenary Hall of the RAFI-EADSC building,
35 Lopez Jaena Street, Cebu City right across the Casa Gorordo Museum.
The forum is free and open to the public.
Jose Ma Lorenzo Tan, World
Wildlife Fund-Philippines CEO, will present the results of the study
entitled, “Business Risk Assessment and the Management of Climate
Change Impacts” that looks at the vulnerability level of Cebu City in
terms of environmental/climate exposure, socio-economic sensitivity,
and adaptive capacity as one of twelve (12) key Philippine cities most
likely to be adversely affected by climate change.
In the said study, scenario
building exercises were used to encourage “out of the box” thinking
and generate plausible narratives that could be useful for strategic
This is the sixth part of
the series that RAFI-EADSC organized this year with the theme, “Are we
ready for ‘the new normal’?” The series of forums was in response to
the need for further capability building in terms of climate change
adaptation and disaster risk reduction and management, by looking at
the aftermath and the way we responded to the Bohol earthquake and
super typhoon Yolanda last year.
This forum serves to augment
the already concluded four-part series held last January, February,
April and July, and the fifth special forum on El Niño.
Interested participants may
contact Mr. Rehne Gibb Larena at (032)418-7234 local 109 or email him
firstname.lastname@example.org on or before October 24.
The Understanding Choices
Forum is one of the programs of EADSC under RAFI’s Leadership &
Citizenship Focus Area, which aims to build a community that is ready
to effect change. The other focus areas of RAFI are Integrated
Development, Microfinance & Entrepreneurship, Culture & Heritage and
military agreements license to violate people’s rights
October 14, 2014
QUEZON CITY – “The
killing of transgender woman Jennifer Laude by a US serviceman is the
most recent vivid violation of people’s rights, a consequence of
lopsided military agreements between the US and the Philippine
governments. The US-RP Military Bases
Agreement to the Visiting Forces Agreement and the US-GPH Enhanced
Defense Cooperation Agreement have become licenses for numerous gross
transgressions, especially on the rights of Filipino women and
children,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.
An online US-based news
site, www.marinecorpstimes.com cited an internal US Navy memorandum
identified the perpetrator as a US Marine deployed to the Philippines
as part of the Balikatan joint military training exercise. The
suspect, whose identity is kept from the public, and three other
Marines are in the custody of US Navy officials since Sunday.
The Balikatan joint military
exercise is a component of the Visiting Forces Agreement which in
effect ensures the permanent, albeit rotational, presence of the US
troops in the country. “The newly signed EDCA ensures the increased
and permanent presence of US military troops, anywhere and everywhere
in the Philippines, at the expense of the Filipino people, both
monetarily and in relation to our sovereignty and territorial
integrity,” she said.
Palabay warned that the
“issue of jurisdiction and custody over the case may go the way of all
previous cases where criminal accountability of US soldiers in
Philippine territory were exonerated under the pretext of the MBA and
She stated that in 1987, a
US serviceman stationed in the US base on Olongapo and accused in the
rape of 12-year old Rosario Baluyot was “whisked out of the country to
avoid prosecution.” The child later died from sepsis because parts of
a vibrator that was inserted in her vagina remained stuck for seven
The rape of “Nicole” by US
Marine Daniel Smith in 2005 was the first case where a member of the
US military was tried, convicted and sentenced for a crime on
Philippine territory. However, the local court ruling on the landmark
case was overturned when Smith was secretly transferred from the
Makati City Jail to the US Embassy’s custody in 2006.
“In both cases, the issue of
US government custody on the perpetrators from the US military was
invoked,” Palabay added.
“We call on the Filipino
people to assert the country’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over the
case, including custody and investigation of the perpetrator, and his
prosecution. We demand justice and accountability. We call for the
immediate junking of the VFA and the EDCA, which are threats to the
Filipino people’s liberty and security,” she concluded.
Cebu vice guv
assures support for cancer victims
By Ramon Aboitiz Foundation
October 12, 2014
CEBU CITY – Cebu Vice
Governor Agnes Magpale last Saturday assured those suffering from
breast cancer they have her full support and that they must have the
strength to fight the disease.
Speaking before a crowd of
over 3,000 participants of the Moonwalk: A Walk for Breast Cancer
Awareness during an opening program at the Fuente Osmeña Circle,
Magpale said the support for those stricken with breast cancer would
always be there.
She also thanked the various
support groups not only for patients and survivors but also to their
families who have tirelessly provided assistance.
The Moonwalk last Saturday
started from Fuente Osmeña Rotunda to Plaza Independencia in Cebu
City. Started in 2004, it is a unique collective advocacy campaign
focused on early screening and detection of breast cancer through
monthly breast self-examination and mammography.
Ronald de los Reyes, Ramon
Aboitiz Foundation Inc.-Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center (RAFI-EJACC)
program coordinator, emphasized early detection as the best way to
survive cancer. This can be done by having regular screening.
“Breast cancer is one of
those cancers with screening and survival therefore is very high if it
is detected at an early stage,” he said.
With records of 657 deaths
out of the 1,349 cases in 2003-2007, the Cebu population-based Cancer
Registry of RAFI-EJACC identifies breast cancer as the leading cause
of death among Cebuano women.
De los Reyes said that what
is sad is that many of those cases where discovered only when breast
cancer was already in its advance stage and survival was already slim.
For this reason, the fight
against the disease, which affects the lives of Cebuano women and
their families, continues through this annual advocacy walk, which is
held every full moon of October in observance of Breast Cancer
A particular information
that should be made common knowledge, for example, is that breast
cancer can also afflict men.
De los Reyes emphasized that
women 20 years old and above should already know how to do breast
self-examination and do so at least once a month and must know the
symptoms of breast cancer, which include unusual discharge from and
lump in the breast.
Aside RAFI employees and
those from partner organizations, various government agencies like the
Department of Health and those from the different barangays and
schools of Cebu also joined in the 1.5-kilometer walk.
Convergys, the Rotary, and
Radisson Blu Hotel likewise, among others, also joined the Moonwalk,
which featured performances from local talents during the program at
the Plaza Independencia immediately after the walk.
The event was organized by
RAFI-EJACC in partnership with the Cebu City Government and Task Force
Cancer of Cebu City, Department of Health 7, Destiny Medical Fund
Inc., and Goldilocks. It is also supported by the Cebu Cancer Fight
Inc., I CAN SERVE Foundation, Alcordo Advertising, Nature Spring, and
CAN with GOD.
Performers Jewel Villaflores,
Reycel Punay, Cattski Espina, among others, also spiced up the program
at Plaza Independencia.
concern over displacement of 24,000 ARMM public sector workers
dislodged by new Bangsamoro Transition Council
October 12, 2014
QUEZON CITY – The
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa expresses concern
over the displacement of around 24,000 public sector workers currently
employed in municipalities, cities, provincial and regional government
offices once the Autonomous Regions in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is
dissolved and taken over by Bangsamoro Transition Council within next
During the House of
Representatives committee deliberation on the provisions on the new
Bangsamoro law presided by TUCP Party-list Rep. Raymond Mendoza, CSC
resource persons disclosed the commission have no preparation in place
when asked about the displacement.
“The labor center expresses
concern over the unknown fate of these workers who will be dislodged
once the Bangsamoro law takes effect. We call on the Civil Service
Commission (CSC) to step in and take the necessary course of action.
We are wondering why the commission has no preparations towards one of
very important elements of the transition issue,” said Gerard Seno,
executive vice president of the Associated Labor Unions (ALU).
Seno said the labor group is
proposing that the CSC take in command of ensuring that the workforce
be integrated into the new Bangsamoro government using lateral
transfer and merit-based integration rather than leaving their fate to
TUCP executive director
Louie Corral added by saying: “This is a significant number of public
sector employees ever to be displaced in the course of Philippine
government paving the way for the new Bangsamoro. But the government
has the primary responsibility to provide safety nets for these
workers who had been serving the bureaucracy quietly. Rather than
allowing these people fell through the cracks, they should be
integrated because they are already an asset.”
UCCP Church leaders
join Sunday Worship after bombing in UCCP Pikit, Cotabato
October 11, 2014
QUEZON CITY – In
response to the killing of two Church members and the wounding of many
by a grenade bombing at UCCP Pikit, during their midweek worship
service on Wednesday, October 8, 2014, Bishop Hamuel Tequis, assigned
to South East Mindanao Jurisdictional Area leads a delegation of
Church leaders to Pikit to join Sunday Worship.
“The UCCP condemns the
dastardly act of bombing the UCCP Pikit worship service; and yet, we
journey to Pikit with a most important intention to comfort the
bereaved and join as a presence of solidarity and support to our
Church members,” said Bishop Hamuel Tequis.
“We will be reading messages
that have been sent to the UCCP from around the world during Sunday’s
Worship Service in Pikit. Nearby UCCP local churches will join us in
Pikit, while UCCP local churches across the Philippines will also pray
for the community during their worship services. We want to make sure
that the members know that many are thinking of them and praying for
them during this difficult time,” said Bishop Tequis.
Church leaders will also
seek further information on the motive or identities of the
perpetrators of the grenade bombing as well as documentation of the
“We will visit the injured
and express our condolences to the families of Felomena
Nacario-Ferolin and Gina Cabiluna. We also hope to support the
community in gathering data and documenting accounts of what
transpired in Pikit last Wednesday,” said Bishop Tequis.
“Our General Secretary has
called for sober-minded vigilance and has cautioned us not to rush
toward hasty judgment when we do not have evidence of the motive of
the bombing. We will do our part to seek justice and build peace,”
said Rev. Jerome Baris, National Program Coordinator for Justice,
Peace and Human Rights.
The United Church of Christ
in the Philippines has encouraged inter-faith, tri-people efforts to
build unity, justice and peace, in response to the worship-service
bombing at UCCP Pikit.
“Many UCCP members have
expressed feelings of fear, grief, and disbelief that this happened
during a worship service. We must provide counsel, care, and spiritual
guidance for our members. This is a moment in our faith journey, where
we must choose to act for peace. And by choosing to continue to work
together as Christians, Muslims and Lumads, we will seek peace based
on justice in our land,” said Bp. Tequis.