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Ratify Minamata Convention on Mercury

05:05 AM August 14, 2017

The EcoWaste Coalition, composed of over 100 concerned groups and citizens, respectfully request President Duterte to work for the immediate ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and to secure the required Senate concurrence to its ratification prior to the First Conference of Parties (COP1).

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, a globally-binding treaty that seeks to protect human health and the environment from mercury emissions and releases, will enter into force on Aug. 16, 2017, and will have its COP1 on Sept. 24-29, 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland.

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While the Philippines, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has already signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury on Oct. 10, 2013, the government has yet to ratify this historic treaty named after the Japanese city that suffered heavily from decades-long mercury poisoning disaster. To date, 74 governments, excluding the Philippines, have ratified the convention.

For the record, the Philippines actively and meaningfully participated in the mercury treaty negotiations from 2010-2013. Also, our country has been pursuing progressive policies and programs to combat mercury pollution, including phasing out mercury-based medical devices in 2010 (DOH Administrative Order No. 2008-21), banning mercury use in mineral processing in artisanal and small-scale gold mining in 2012 (Executive Order No. 79-2012), introducing extended producer responsibility for lighting products containing mercury in 2013 (Joint DENR-DOE AO 2013-09-0001), and prohibiting over 135 mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics since 2010 to date (various Food and Drug Administration advisories).

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Ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury will further strengthen our country’s efforts to prevent, if not eliminate, threats of mercury pollution as this will allow the Philippines to effectively engage in the treaty processes, address gaps in existing regulations, and gain access to financial resources and beneficial technology transfer and capacity-building opportunities.

In line with EO 459, Series of 1997, we therefore request the DENR to endorse the treaty to the Department of Foreign Affairs, which shall then transmit it to President Duterte for his ratification. Upon ratification, the DFA shall then submit the treaty to the Senate for concurrence.

The earnest support and firm resolve of the Duterte administration will ensure that the Philippines will attend the COP1 as state party to the Minamata Convention, and not as a mere observer.

EILEEN B. SISON, president, EcoWaste Coalition, [email protected]

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TAGS: EcoWaste Coalition, Eileen B. Sison, Inquirer letters, Minamata Convention on Mercury, Rodrigo Duterte
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