By Jeannette I. Andrade
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will no longer hold a ceremonial burning of some five tons of seized elephant tusks but assured that it will push through with crushing the confiscated ivory on June 21. DENR decided to do away with the “ceremonial burning” after environmental groups said it would send the wrong message that open burning could be acceptable.
In a statement, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said that he has ordered the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) to forgo the planned “ceremonial burning.”
“I have already instructed the PAWB to forgo the ceremonial burning. But just the same, the confiscated tusks weighing about five tons will be crushed as planned using road rollers,” he said.
Paje explained that the DENR originally planned to burn only 20 pieces from the five tons of elephant tusks for at least five minutes using kerosene while the rest would be crushed with road rollers in the June 21 rites at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC).
The use of kerosene, he said, had been recommended by the Environmental Management Bureau.
Some 30 clean air advocates, including the Ecowaste Coalition and several environmental lawyers, opposed the “ceremonial burning” of the confiscated elephant tusks through letters sent to the DENR secretary and PAWB director Theresa Mundita Lim.
They wrote, “Even if the intent is only to conduct ‘ceremonial burning,’ we remain anxious as this will likely send a confusing message to the general public from the environmental authorities 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.” More....