By Gilbert P. Felongco
A multi-sectoral environmentalist group is opposing a government plan to burn seized elephant tusks, as they said the idea would further harm to the environment.
The government had planned to destroy five tonnes of elephant tusks confiscated from illegal traders over the years to send a message to poachers and ivory connoisseurs that the country will not tolerate trading in wild species, but the EcoWaste Coalition said the idea may convey the wrong impression to people.
In a letter addressed to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Theresa Mundita-Lim, Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Director, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed opposition to the plan to burn the tusks as such would contribute to air pollution.
“At the outset, let us state that we are in full support of the global effort to stop illegal wildlife trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (Cites) ... However, burning the confiscated tusks goes against the prohibition against the open burning of municipal solid waste enshrined in two of our major environmental laws: Republic Act (R.A.) 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and R.A. 8749, the Clean Air Act,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.
It further said that even if the intent is only to conduct “ceremonial burning,” such an act would likely send a confusing message to the general that open burning is acceptable.
“A photo showing the Environment Secretary setting a pile of tusks on fire may be interpreted as a tacit endorsement that open burning is okay,” EcoWaste warned. More....