Warning Out on Toxic Cadmium and Lead in Lucky Charms and Amulets (Group tells manufacturers to label their products and provide hazard warnings)
As the Chinese Lunar New Year approaches, the toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition cautioned luck seekers from purchasing charms and amulets containing highly hazardous chemicals cadmium and lead.
“Some amulets and charms that claim to attract or boost ‘Sheng Chi’ (good energy) and counter ‘Sha Chi’ (bad energy) are unluckily laden with high levels of cadmium and lead,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“These chemicals are highly hazardous and are known to negatively affect human health and the environment,” she said, “We therefore question their presence in charms and amulets that are marketed to enhance good health, happiness, long life, and prosperity.”
Morality is not properly the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness. – Immanuel Kant
We must win freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual, loving what is just, good and great, to the point of dying for it. When a people reach these heights . . . the idols and tyrants fall like a house of cards and freedom shines in the first dawn. – Jose Rizal
Itinuturo ng katuwiran na wala tayong iba pang maa-antay kundi lalo’t lalong ka-alipinan. Itinuturo ng katuwiran, lalo’t lalong ka-alipustaan. Itinuturo ng katuwiran na huwag nating sayangin ang panahon sa pag-asa sa ipinangakong kaginhawahan na hindi darating at hindi mangyayari. Itinuturo ng katuwiran na tayo’y umasa sa ating sarili at huwag antayin sa iba ang ating kabuhayan. Itinuturo ng katuwiran na tayo’y magka-isang luob, magka-isang isip at akala, at tayo’y magkaisa na maihanap ng lunas ang nagha-haring kasamaan sa ating Bayan. – Andres Bonifacio
Birdtalk is a biannual forum where IBON Foundation presents its analysis of the country’s most urgent socioeconomic and political issues. Various sectors, including government office representatives, the religious, educators and students, entrepreneurs, and organizations are invited.
Birdtalk will be on Wednesday, January 25, 1PM and LIVESTREAMED here on our FB page. We’re also working to bring Birdtalk to a much wider audience!
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We, the participants of the 6th Freedom of Expression Conference or the FreeXP.Con, organized by the Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH) and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), stand to affirm that:
WE RECOGNIZE that freedom of expression is a fundamental right of everyone to be heard and to take part in public affairs that have an impact on our lives. The voices of youth matter as they amplify the voices to defend the ideals of democracy, human rights, peace, and social justice.
WE ARE DEEPLY DISTURBED that fake news, historical distortions, and online disinformation on various social media platforms as well as in mainstream media, are now engendering distrust in reliable sources of information that are making us turn against each other with hate and intolerance. These distortive narratives are clouding our perception of the real social reality and robbing our youth of their national identity.
WE RENEW OUR COMMITMENT to defend the truth by engaging the public in in-depth discussions thru social media or other arenas of public discourse. We must educate not derogate. This will ensure that more people especially the youths are better informed, united, and inspired to take meaningful action.
WE ENJOIN others to be vigilant by taking the frontlines of the campaign against online disinformation and historical distortions. We should fact-check, think before we click, and share reliable information that everyone deserves to know.
WE ARE GRAVELY ALARMED by the continuing criminalization of freedom of expression and opinion in the guise of combating disinformation and fake news but really intended to stifle dissent and silence critics. Legal measures to address and expose lies, must not make a legitimate free speech, as well as personal privacy, become casualties in the fight against falsehoods.
WE ACKNOWLEDGE THE NEED TO FIGHT BACK by bringing to the fore a stronger and wider collaboration with our youth considering they’re a force to contend with to constantly produce online content that can counter the spread of lies, twisted truths, and distorted realities.
WE WELCOME AND ENCOURAGE the different initiatives and efforts to protect freedom of expression and to counter disinformation by putting forward the following RECOMMENDATIONS for the youth:
1. To encounter human rights every day – to learn to respect, learn to care for, and live and claim our rights;
2. To find their passion to do good and advocate for them;
3. To help generate awareness of climate change and demand action for climate justice;
4. To create platforms for online and offline connections among the youth where they can share information and positive change stories; and
5. To focus on our spheres of influence and thrive to occupy online spaces for narrative change.
WE ARE ONE in principle, as we join the global commemoration of International Human Rights Day on December 10, with the FreeXP.CON 6 underscores the crucial role of the youth in bringing about positive change in society and globally by being aware of and willing to claim their rights for a better future.
Adopted on December 2, 2022, at Cocoon Hotel, Quezon City Philippines.
STATEMENT: 10 years of the Reproductive Health Law in the Philippines: A victory?
Getting the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law (RH) enacted in the Philippines a decade ago was a hard-won battle.
The passage of the RH bill faced gargantuan opposition from powerful sectors and getting it passed seemed all but impossible. But realizing the law’s implementation has been tougher.
Maternal mortality has decreased slightly, but it’s still far above the Sustainable Development Goals target. It took ten years, but the Department of Education has finally disseminated a Comprehensive Sexuality Education curriculum. They are now training teachers to implement it. We are working with local schools to do just that.
Environmental group to President-elect Marcos: Prioritize environmental issues
BAN Toxics urged President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to prioritize ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment and take action for proper chemicals and wastes management in time for his upcoming inauguration.
“We call on President-elect Marcos to prioritize the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment, implement measures for sound chemicals and wastes management, and the total ban of waste importation to protect our nation from becoming the world’s dump site again,” says Reynaldo San Juan Jr., executive director of BAN Toxics.
The Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes Management and Disposal was established to protect human health as well as the environment from the harmful effects of improper hazardous waste management worldwide.
PUTTING TORTURE PREVENTION ON THE PHILIPPINES’ NATIONAL AGENDA
In commemoration of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) in cooperation with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)-Philippines today launched a public forum on the prevention of torture.
The event is supported by the European Union through the project “Reducing risky practices leading to torture and ill-treatment in Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand” (#SafeInCustody).
Groups Call for Ban on Toxic Thermal Paper Receipts with BPA/BPS
Three civil society groups are calling on the government and business sectors to protect workers and the general public from the adverse effects of exposure to endocrine disrupting and cancer-linked chemicals present in thermal transaction receipts.
At the “Kapehan sa Dabaw” and the “Forum on Hazardous Chemicals in Thermal Paper Receipts” held last June 20, representatives of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), EcoWaste Coalition and the Wonjin Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health (WIOEH) exposed the hidden hazards in such receipts.
Environmental group spotlights mercury-free alternatives in a new study
In line with the celebration of National Poison Prevention Week, environmental watchdog group BAN Toxics launches alternatives study titled “Mercury-Free Alternatives in the Philippines: Batteries, lamps, and medical measuring devices” in a press briefing.
The fourth week of June is celebrated as the National Poison Prevention Week as declared by Presidential Proclamation No. 1777 s. 2009 as an effort to raise awareness on the preventive aspects of poisoning prevention at home, school, work and the general environment.
The study aimed to assess the availability of mercury-free alternatives in the Philippine market in view of the country’s commitments of phasing out mercury-containing products under the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
Government must stop judicial harassment against human rights groups
CIVICUS, a global civil society alliance, is alarmed by the ongoing judicial harassment against members of three human rights groups, that have been accused of perjury for seeking legal protection from the Supreme Court against government harassment and intimidation. Around court hearings this week – where National Council members from Karapatan will deliver their testimonies – our organisation calls on the government of the Philippines to immediately drop all charges against them and to halt all forms of reprisals against human rights defenders.
The perjury case stems from a petition for protection, through the writs of amparo and habeas data, submitted in May 2019 by the National Council members of Karapatan, national officers of women alliance, GABRIELA and religious group – the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP). The organisations were tagged by the government as alleged fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The petition was initially granted but later denied by the Court of Appeal in June 2019. A petition for review of the decision is still pending.
The Philippines and Russia: On Independent Foreign Policy
A per report of Yahoo! News, “During the presidential election campaign, Marcos initially maintained a neutral position on the Russia-Ukraine war. However, he later issued a statement that he is united with the rest of world in calling for Russia “to respect Ukraine’s freedom and its citizens’ democratic way of life.” (Russia ready to help Philippines with oil, gas needs: Russian envoy, Nicholas Young, Jun 14).
It was at this period also that the Philippine government during the UN General Assembly voted together with 141 out of 193 member countries to denounced Russia’s aggression against Ukraine (U.N. General Assembly in historic vote denounces Russia over Ukraine invasion, Reuters, March 3rd).
Though, the said Resolution is non-binding, it is my firm view that the decision undertaken by Malacanan and DFA on this critical world issue is undeniably wrong. The Russian Federation may consider that idiotic decision as an act of an unfriendly country. (Putin issues decree requesting ‘unfriendly’ countries pay for gas in roubles, The Financial Times, April 1st).
Philippines: Drop perjury charges against Philippines Civil Society Organisations
FORUM-ASIA is deeply concerned by the ongoing court trial on perjury charges filed by Hermogenes Esperon Jr., the former National Security Adviser in the Cabinet of Rodrigo Duterte, against civil societies, Karapatan the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and GABRIELA as well as the systematic vilification and smear campaigns against them.
In July 2019, Hermogenes Esperon Jr. filed a Complaint-Affidavit for perjury with the Quezon City Office of the city prosecutor (QC OCP) against Karapatan National Council members, GABRIELA Chairperson and Secretary-General, and RMP National Coordinator and Northern Mindanao Region Coordinator. The former National Security Adviser claimed that the respondents committed perjury when they petitioned the Supreme Court for the Writ of Amparo and the Writ of Habeas Data.
Increase in salaries, first agenda of teachers to incoming VP and DEPED Secertary Inday Sara Duterte
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) hopes to engage the incoming Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Vice President-elect Sara Duterte in a discussion to tackle the teachers’ long overdue demand for salary increase.
“What we ask is beyond increase in our salaries, it’s about rectifying the decades-old mistake of the government,” said Benjo Basas, a Caloocan City teacher and the group’s national chairperson.
Basas argued that teachers’ salaries should be based on the recommendations of the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (RA 4670), a 1966 vintage law created to institutionalize and further protect the rights and welfare of teachers. However, the law that currently governs the salaries of teachers is the salary standardization law (SSL) of 1989 and its latest version, RA 11466 or the SSL-5 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in January 2020.
Youth group takes their part to protect the environment
As part of Environment Month celebration, the Environment Stewards Organization (ESO), a youth organization from T’boli National High School South Cotabato City spearheaded an environmental awareness-raising campaign, tree planting activities, and leadership development training that aims to advocate for environmental sustainability and preservation.
With the goal to involve the youth in nature preservation, ESO was founded in October 2014 through the efforts of then principal of T’Boli National High School, Mrs. Mila A. De Leon, T’Boli Mayor Dibu Tuan, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 12 Director, Datu Tungko Saikul, and four other officers.
Ensure Rights Panel’s Independence President-Elect Marcos Should Select Commissioners in Transparent Process
President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines should ensure a transparent, inclusive process to select qualified and independent human rights experts as commissioners for the national Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Human Rights Watch said today. Marcos, who will be inaugurated as the new Philippine president on June 30, 2022, is expected to announce his appointments in the coming days.
The Commission on Human Rights is empowered under the 1987 Philippine Constitution to investigate human rights violations and promote respect for human rights in the country. Marcos ran on a campaign marked by disinformation about his family’s role in human rights abuses during the dictatorship of his father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., and so the appointment of the commissioners will be an important first test for his administration’s commitment to human rights.
Red-tagged labor rights NGO filed a complaint at CHR
On June 14, 2022, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) formally filed a complaint at the Commission on Human Rights, a week after it publicly denounced the malicious statements made by elements of the NTF-ELCAC against their institution.
In its complaint, CTUHR narrated that they received a report that they have been red-tagged in the program, “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” aired last June 6, 2022. One of the topics discussed in the said episode was “Labor Infiltration Operations of CPP-NDF-NPA in CALABARZON, Central Luzon and NCR,” where they zoomed in on the strike conducted by J&T Express workers in Cabuyao, Laguna.
The guest Charlie “Steve Alejandro” Ponclara and one of the hosts Jeffrey “Eric” Celiz, in a series of exchanges, purported that the strike of the workers was illegal and that they were infiltrated and instigated by operatives of the CPP-NPA-NDF. CTUHR was tagged as one of these, together with Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan – Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU).
Environmental group lauds DOH-FDA for banning mercury use in medical devices and dental procedures
Environmental watchdog group BAN Toxics lauds the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Philippines for issuing the FDA Circular which totally bans mercury-added thermometers, sphygmomanometers, dental amalgam capsules, and liquid mercury use in dental restorative procedures in the country.
FDA Circular No. 2022-003 aims for “the total ban of the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, sale, offer for sale, donation, transfer, and where applicable, the use, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of mercury-added thermometers and sphygmomanometers along with dental amalgam capsules and liquid mercury for use in dental restorative purposes to protect human health from the adverse effects of mercury-added medical devices.”
In addition, the storage, transport, and disposal of the banned medical devices shall comply with the existing implementing rules and regulations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) calls on the leadership of the Department of Education (DepEd) to clarify some of the content of its new ordinance that will extend the work of teachers beyond the school year which will end on June 24, 2022.
“This policy should be clarified because we expect teachers to enjoy a two-month vacation between the closing and opening of school years, we have the right under the law,” said Benjo Basas, national chairperson of TDC.
According to Basas, DepEd Order No. 25, p. 2022 signed by Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan last week seems to ignore the supposed entitlement of two-month vacation of teachers. The Order will require some of the teachers to conduct ‘summer’ or end of the school year classes for children with failing grades in two subjects. Meanwhile, children with low marks of 75 to 79 in any subject must attend enrichment classes. These two interventions will be held from July 24 to August 12.
EcoWaste Coalition Hails Global Ban on Highly Toxic Chemical PFHxS
The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition lauded the decision by the world’s governments to add PFHxS to the Stockholm Convention’s list of banned persistent organic pollutants (POPs) with no exemptions.
PFHxS, or perfluorohexane sulfonic acid, its salts, and related substances, will be added to Annex A of the treaty for global elimination as agreed during the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10) of the Stockholm Convention in Geneva, Switzerland.
PFHxS belongs to the highly persistent group of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or the “forever chemicals.” Related fluorinated chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), were added to the Convention in 2009 and 2019.