Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Poison awards for river polluters to go nationwide

BUOYED by its initial success in dealing with polluting firms along the Pasig River, the annual "Lason sa Ilog Award" is going nationwide to expose business establishments found responsible for dirtying waterways.

"Lason" (poison) organizers, led by the Earth Day Network and supported by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, are accepting "nominations" beginning today in the shame campaign against factories and other establishments that lack waste water treatment facilities or otherwise dump their wastes into rivers, bays and streams.

The campaign is one of EDN's projects in the run-up to the celebration of International Earth Day on April 22.

EDN executive director Toby Tañada said that like the original award which had focused on polluting establishments backing the Pasig River, the National Lason sa Ilog Award intends to "pressure" businesses near waterways into complying with the waste water treatment standards set by the DENR.

"From our experience, an industry can be forced to improve its operations after we have exposed it as a Lason awardee," said Tañada, a son of former Sen. Wigberto Tañada.

"Being identified as a Lason awardee has an impact on how consumers see a company. Marketing-wise, the [firm would] have to do something about that image," he added.

At a press conference in Quezon City yesterday, Tañada presented a virtual "who's who" of Philippine companies that had been slapped Lason awards since the citations began in 1996.

The list included giant food companies (hamburger chains, pastry shops, roasted chicken stands, specialty restaurants), shopping centers, glass and plastics plants, animal feed and textile factories, and even an association of hog raisers.

Former Environment Secretary Elisea Gozun, Tañada's predecessor at EDN, observed that "exerting public pressure on companies (through such mock awards) has actually proven more effective than actual... enforcement" of environmental laws.

The nomination period will run up to March 25. Parties that may nominate violators are local government units, academic institutions, nongovernment organizations, church and civic groups, and people's organizations.

For details, interested parties may call the Sagip Pasig Movement at 929-6626 loc. 2216, or 0919-3765748; or e-mail at ilog_lasonaward@yahoo.com.

Nominated companies will be inspected, the complaints against them verified by technical experts, until the EDN-which has some 2,000 affiliate groups nationwide-comes up with a short list of worst-polluting firms to receive the awards.


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