QUEZON City–Environmental justice watchdog BAN Toxics lauded the Philippine government for ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury, with the government depositing the instrument of ratification on July 8, 2020. The Philippines is the 123rd country to join the treaty.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is an international treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from man-made emissions of mercury and mercury compounds. The Convention provides a comprehensive policy to address mercury emissions to soil, water and the atmosphere, phase out mercury use in products and processes, and the regulation of the informality of the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector (ASGM). It also addresses the storage and disposal of the chemical.
“We laud the Duterte administration in taking the first step in the fight against mercury,” exclaims Reynaldo San Juan, Executive Director of BAN Toxics. “Mercury is a global problem, and by joining the community of nations in addressing the mercury scourge, the Philippines improves its chances in fighting off this deadly toxin.”
The Philippines is among the 128 countries which signed the Minamata Convention in 2013. The mercury treaty entered into force in August 2017.
Mercury is a toxic chemical with negative effects on both human health and the environment and is listed by the World Health Organization as one of their top chemicals of major health concern. Exposure to mercury may cause harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems and may also be fatal. Primary sources of human exposure to mercury are from dental amalgams, mercury-laden hospital devices, and gold mining activities.
BAN Toxics has pushed the Philippine government to take action to curb mercury use in the country since 2007. The group praised the government for taking concrete steps to eliminate mercury use in the country. In May 2020, Secretary Francisco Duque III of the Department of Health (DOH) signed Administrative Order No. 2020-0020, effectively phasing out mercury use in dental restorative procedures.
“Our fight against mercury does not end here. The only way we can ensure the safety of the Filipinos, especially the future generations, against mercury is by adapting the Minamata Convention into our local laws and implementing it,” stated San Juan. “We look forward to the quick action of Pres. Duterte against mercury, now that the Philippines is a party to the Minamata Convention.”