Philippines calls for ratification of pact against mercury

March 23, 2019

With the ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Filipinos can look forward to a mercury-free Philippines.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu said  during  the launching of the country’s  Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) report in Quezon City as soon as the country ratifies the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Philippines will be protected from being a dumping ground for products containing mercury.

Cimatu’s message was read by DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones during the launching.

The MIA report prepared  by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) outlines the national requirements and needs for the implementation of the Minamata Convention.

Cimatu expressed hope the release of the MIA report will “serve as a kickoff point for our campaign for a mercury-free lifestyle for a safer environment.”

“Once it ratifies the convention, it will also help avoid further risk to the country’s aquatic life, where mercury levels have been increasing,” Cimatu added.

The Minamata Convention is the world’s first legally binding treaty to phase out mercury, a highly toxic substance that poses threats to the environment and human health.

In 2013, the Philippines was one of the 128 countries that signed the convention, which regulates the use and trade of mercury.

The convention is named after the Japanese city where industrial emissions of the toxic substance caused a poisoning disease affecting thousands of people in the 1950s.

The Philippines has yet to ratify the convention, which entered into force in August 2017.

The MIA was prescribed by the convention to establish a baseline report, which will help the county prepare in dealing with mercury once the treaty is ratified by the Senate and its provisions are implemented.

According to the MIA report, the primary anthropogenic sources of mercury in the country or those that result from human activities, is the extraction and use of energy sources. This is followed by the production of primary or virgin metal, which includes mining and gold processing, and the production of other minerals and materials with mercury impurities.

Mercury inventory is one of the important decision-making tools towards mitigating environmental impacts brought about by toxic pollutants such as mercury.