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Leveraging seaweed into savings with sci-tech

January 21, 2020

SEAWEED farming has long been a reliable source of income for coastal communities in the country; fringed by waters of the Sulu Sea and the Moro Gulf, the city of Zamboanga in Mindanao is no stranger to the seaweed trade. Only recently, four communities in the city, namely barangays of Sta. Catalina, Mampang, Arena Blanco, and Tigtabon have moved to adopt technologies that target seaweed efficient drying process and quality dried seaweed. The Gap While seaweed type is a factor in determining value, the quality of the dried seaweed is what ultimately dictates price. The current drying practice, which is basically open area sun-drying, can take up to a number of days, and puts the seaweeds at the mercy of the elements. Farmers resort to covering or storing stocks at the first hint of rain or bad weather, which does little good for the dehydration process among others. This usually translates to poor seaweed quality, which in turn greatly reduces the farmers’ command on the commodity’s price.    The Intervention The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) has developed a seaweed drying system that is capable of drying newly harvested stocks at a faster rate, while protecting the seaweeds from unpredictable weather. At present, two types of the solar seaweed drying tech are available: the floating-type, which stays on the water surface, allowing farmers to tow the structure close to their production area for faster harvesting, and the permanent-type, which doubles as a storehouse sturdy enough to withstand harsh weather conditions, and provide easy, all-around access for farmers. The structures are also designed to reduce direct exposure to sand, dirt, and other contaminants usually contaminated during the harvesting and hauling of fresh seaweeds to the drying area. Aside from the greenhouse/U-V treated sheets that cover both facilities, they are also fitted with built-in solar-powered exhaust fans for the quick and uniform drying of stocks. At present, studies have shown the structures to be capable of drying two tons of high quality fresh seaweeds in a matter of three days, without any inconsistency in the production. Through the Department of Science and Technology in Region 9, the abovementioned communities can expect the technologies to be on their shores as early as the second quarter of 2020. (PR)

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Coco sugar from Misor now available nationwide

January 21, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City--The coconut sugar produced by Linabo Agrarian Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LAMPCO) in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental is now available in all Bukidnon Pharmaceutical Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BUPHARCO) outlets nationwide. The partnership between the two cooperatives was announced by its chairmen during the Product and Market Launching of Coco Sugar held Saturday, January 18, at Pearlmont Inn Hotel, this city. Reyno Molo, LAMPCO chairman, said the selling of their coco sugar in BUPHARCO outlets is a big boost to sustain their operations and business growth. Molo admitted that marketing the coco sugar has been a challenge to LAMPCO. For his part, BUPHARCO chairman Eugene Pabualan said they will assist in marketing LAMPCO’s coco sugar since they believed that cooperation among cooperatives could bolster local economies and lead to improved cooperative services. LAMPCO’s coco sugar which is produced from coco sap is a healthy alternative to white and brown sugar. It is organic, Halal-certified, and carbon-neutral certified. The product and market launching was graced by Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Undersecretary Bernie Cruz who lauded the collaboration of the two cooperatives citing it as an example of people-to-people partnership. In his message, Cruz reminded the LAMPCO members to take good care of the quality of their coco sugar. Such, he said, is the key to sustaining the success of the product. He also advised them to continuously work for the quality improvement of the product. LAMPCO's coco sugar is one of the projects assisted by the DAR Region 10 under the Project ConVERGE, a six-year project that aims to contribute to the reduction of poverty by providing support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries, small farmers, and rural workers. The project is jointly funded by the Philippine government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. (APB/PIA10)

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Re-exportation of last batch of waste from Sokor Feb. 9

January 21, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City--After 25 months, the last tranche of 2,700 metric tons of garbage will be re-exported back to South Korea on February 9, a Customs official said. This, as Bureau of Customs (BOC) district collector for Northern Mindanao John Simon led other officials Sunday (January 19) in loading 2,400 metric tons of the trash to M/V L8 Nordmarsh at the Mindanao Container Terminal in Tagoloan town in Misamis Oriental. Under the Basel Convention , Simon said the South Korean government paid for the shipping cost of P10 million. The event capped the saga that started 25 months ago in October 2018 when residents of sitio Buguac, Barangay Sta. Cruz, Tagoloan town first reported to Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) committee on environment chair Gerardo Sabal III of huge volume of foul-emitting garbage in their vicinity. Sabal’s committee immediately summoned Simon, the then Mindanao Container Terminal Customs collector, to shed light on the matter who reported that the garbage was able to breach through Customs port under the previous collector. Simon then said that the garbage was misdeclared as recyclable plastic pellets but on inspection were actually household wastes. On his own, Simon went on national television and reported the presence of the smuggled garbage in his vicinity thus capturing the national spotlight and sending a congressional committee to investigate the matter. Simon, who initiated an inter-agency task force on the matter, was able to secure assurance from the South Korean government which committed P27 million for the shipment of the wastes back to its port of origin. The first reshipment of South Korea wastes from consignee Verde Soko actually occurred a year ago in January 2019 but at 1,400 tons, this was only minimal in volume, and is not part of the July 2019 wastes wallowing in Sta. Cruz. This earlier reshipment consisted of the second wave of Verde Soko-consigned cargo which was immediately intercepted by Customs in October 2018 at Mindanao Container Terminal days after Simon already assumed his post as port collector. For the main bulk of Verde Soko wastes (the July 2019 cargo), it took another year for the reshipment to get done with Misamis Oriental officials such as Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano, Rep. Juliette Uy and Tagoloan Mayor Gomer Sabio providing manpower and logistics to load the trash to the 60 containers. An emotional Simon thanked all those involved in the reloading of the trash and rallied stakeholders here to never again allow foreign wastes to be unloaded in this part of Mindanao.

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Groups cheer re-exportation of Sokor waste

January 21, 2020

Mindanao dili basurahan, bar waste imports, ratify the Basel Ban Amendment TAGOLOAN, Misamis Oriental--Environmental health and justice advocates called for greater vigilance against waste imports as they cheer over the re-exportation of the remaining illegal South Korean waste shipments to their origin starting Sunday (January 19). At the jubilant “return to sender” ceremony held at the Mindanao International Container Terminal, over 35 representatives from the EcoWaste Coalition, Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) and the Sustainable Davao Movement (SDM) joined Bureau of Customs-Region 10  Port Collector John Simon and other public officials in celebrating the re-export of the first 60 container vans of contaminated plastic waste from South Korea in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental where more than 5,000 tons of such wastes have been sitting since 2018. To emphasize their call for vigilance, the advocates unfurled a banner that says: “Prohibit waste importation.  Ratify the Basel Ban Amendment.”  They also held placards with anti-dumping messages “Pilipinas hindi tambakan ng basura” (Philippines not a dumpsite), “Mindanao dili basurahan” (Mindanao not a garbage bin), “no entry for foreign waste,” and “no dumping from now on.” “The re-exportation of the falsely declared waste materials back to South Korea affirms our nation’s readiness and resolve to bring this dumping controversy to its just conclusion.  To stop this incident from happening again, I add my voice to the growing clamor to upgrade and strengthen our legal defense against waste dumping, including ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment,” said Simon. The Philippines, a state party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, has yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment.  The said amendment, which became an international law last December 5, 2019,   prohibits the export of hazardous wastes for all reasons, including recycling, from developed to developing countries Speaking before the triumphant crowd, Chinkie Peliño-Golle, Executive Director of Davao City-based IDIS said: “This dumping controversy and similar dumping incidents have reinforced the urgency of ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment and revising current regulations that permit waste imports into the country under the guise of ‘recycling.’ We need to plug the regulatory loopholes that waste traders are taking advantage of, which is turning our country, particularly Mindanao, into a convenient dumping site for plastic, electronic and other hazardous wastes.” “Such wastes should be recycled, treated or disposed of in the country where such wastes were generated,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, who also added that “while we pursue ecological solutions to our domestic garbage woes, we must tell South Korea and other countries to deal with their own wastes at home and stop exporting them to the Philippines and other Asian countries.” Dr. Joe DiGangi, Senior Science and Technical Advisory of the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), which includes IDIS and the EcoWaste Coalition among its members, agreed: “Korean waste should be managed in Korea and not dumped in the Philippines or anywhere else. This experience should nudge both countries to promptly ratify the Basel Ban Amendment.” The groups further stressed the need for a national ban on waste importation from all countries that will cover all wastes, including household and plastic wastes, as the Basel Ban Amendment is focused mainly on hazardous waste shipments from developed countries. According to the groups, the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment and the prohibition on waste importation will be the best legal protection of the Philippines against illegal waste traffic. “For the protection of public health, for environmental justice, and for the preservation of the national dignity against the dehumanizing and polluting impacts of global waste trade, we call upon our leaders to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment and to impose a waste import ban without delay,” the groups asserted. Aside from the EcoWaste Coalition, IDIS and SDM, representatives from Agro-Eco Philippines, Bantay Bukid/Bantayo Aweg,  and  Gitib-Orol (Our Rivers Our Life)  also witnessed the send-off ceremony for the illegal waste shipments from South Korea.

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Catarman town bans smoking, use of plastics

January 15, 2020

CAMIGUIN--The local government of Catarman has launched the “Plastic Mo, Bigas Ko” and “Opos Mo, Bigas Ko” drive from January 14 to February 14. The campaign is part of the 10-point Keen, Institutionalized and Transparent (KIT) agenda of Mayor Kiterio Antonio Palarca Palarca said the plastic-free campaign is the  implementation of Municipal Ordinance no. 1, series of 2019, that prohibits the use of styrofoam and plastic bag on dry goods and regulating its utilization on wet goods within the municipality and prescribing penalties thereof. The smoke-free campaign, on the other hand, enforces the Municipal Ordinance no. 01, series of 2017, banning the use and smoking of cigars, e-cigarettes, cigarettes and other tobacco products in public places, public buildings, public utility vehicles, and other areas alike, providing fines and penalties thereof. A kilo of commercial rice will be given in exchange for a kilo of plastic at the Municipal Mayor’s Office. Likewise, a kilo of rice will be given in exchange of 100 pieces of cigarette butts to the local government. (Press Release)

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Groups hail impending re-export of Sokor waste as victory for environmental justice

January 14, 2020

THE impending re-exportation of illegal waste shipments from South Korea, described by the authorities as “misdeclared, heterogenous and injurious to public health,” has been welcomed by green groups who say it will help in rectifying the environmental injustice committed against Mindanao and the entire Filipino nation. Davao City-based Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) and Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition hailed the planned repatriation of over 5,000 tons of South Korean waste stranded since July 2018 at the PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental as confirmed by customs authorities. Through a text message received by the EcoWaste Coalition from Port Collector John Simon of the Bureau of Customs- Region 10, the authorities announced that 60 container vans of illegal waste imports by Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corporation will be returned to South Korea on January 19 and the rest on February 9 with vessels from Maersk International Shipping Lines as the official carrier. /ecowastecoalition.org “The long wait will soon be over.  In line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive banning waste imports and in cooperation with the South Korean government, we are shipping back the remaining wastes to their origin on January 19 and February 9.  The re-exportation of the misdeclared plastic wastes to where they come from should send a clear signal to all parties that our beloved country is not a global dump and that waste traffickers will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Simon said. “This is good news for the people of Mindanao as we assert our unwillingness to be an entry point of hazardous waste from overseas.  The re-shipment of the South Korean waste to its source is a historic win for our people and the environment,” said Chinkie Peliño-Golle, Executive Director, IDIS, adding that “this is only a partial victory as the culprits behind this toxic mess have yet to account for their misdeeds.” “The complete removal of the remaining South Korean waste in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, the clean-up of the storage site and the prosecution of the offenders will help in correcting the grave environmental injustice inflicted on Mindanaoans in particular and Filipino people in general,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “We commend Port Collector Simon and his team, as well as other customs, environmental and local government officials in the region, for taking a brave and solid position against foreign waste dumping and for finding ways to overcome logistical challenges, especially with the complicated repacking of the bulk waste,” she said. It will be recalled that illegal waste shipments from South Korea, falsely declared as “plastic synthetic flakes,” with a total combined weight of 6,500 tons arrived at the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT) in July and October 2018. BOC-10 issued three warrants of seizure and detention against the illegal waste cargoes followed by a re-exportation order citing violations of DENR Administrative Order 2013-22 and the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. Following the agreement reached by the governments of the Philippines and South Korea in December 2018, some 1,400 tons of illegal waste shipments were sent back to South Korea on January 13, 2019, which was witnessed by representatives from the EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace, IDIS and other civil society groups from Davao City. The repatriation of the remaining wastes from South Korean was delayed due to financial and logistical issues related to their re-bagging and transfer from the PHIVIDEC site to the MICT. Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition pressed the national government to speed up its ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment, which entered into force on December 5 last year, and to adopt a full ban on foreign waste importation to protect the country from illegal waste traffic. The Basel Ban Amendment prohibits the export of hazardous wastes for all reasons, including recycling, from rich countries belonging to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), European Union (EU) and Liechtenstein to developing countries like the Philippines. “Ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment and further prohibiting the export of all wastes to the Philippines will be our best legal protection against waste trafficking,” the EcoWaste Coalition insisted.

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