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Alan Gensoli

Wang Canfa

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There are those who claim to be environmental lawyers and then there is Wang Canfa who claims nothing but fairness for victims of environmental tyranny. One of the recipients of this year's Ramon Magsaysay Awards is Chinese lawyer Wang Canfa, honored for upholding the rights of the poor against companies that devastate the environment. He is the founder of the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims, which gives free legal advice. Wang Canfa seems to be driven by a keen understanding of how pollution leads to loss of property and livelihood. This connection is extremely important, and I will go back to this later in the column.

Established in 1998, CLAPV is part of the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Its primary goal is to nudge government to enforce environmental laws (sounds terribly familiar). Wang Canfa said, "China has many laws and regulations regarding the environment, but the situation just gets worse because they are often not implemented." Wang Canfa is the perfect Magsaysay awardee then, for by his recognition we are reminded that the Philippine government has failed to enforce our primary environmental law, Republic Act 9003. Both former president Gloria Arroyo and current president Benigno Simeon Aquino are equally to blame.

Waste to Worth

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A couple of months back, a representative of Waste to Worth Innovations (W2WI) came to town to discuss the possibility of finding an enduring solution to our solid waste management (SWM) problems, addressing issues like non-segregation of trash and the eventual ineffectiveness of landfilling. Jill Boughton is a former employee of Procter & Gamble. In 2010, the multi-national expressed its desire to put an end to all the consumer and manufacturing waste it generates that end up in landfills. P&G organized a team to study how value may be extracted from trash and transformed into resource. The approach came to be known as Waste to Worth. After three years of research, W2WI was formed with Jill as team leader. Firm in its commitment to the cause, P&G has since remained a close collaborator of W2WI.

The Great Stink

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Thames was the main source of water in Victorian London. Waterwheels moved water from the river into homes for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Starting 1815, however, household waste from sewers was discharged at the Thames. Good thing, not all could afford the fee to empty their sewers into the river. Bad thing, the sewers of poorer commoners soon overflowed into the streets. That happens when progress is not inclusive. Unlike in the Philippines where people are allowed to build houses on top of creeks and rivers so they can automatically, by gravity, discharge their waste. No need for sewers and fees. I am really mocking, okay?

HIV/AIDS Cases Up, Insurance Sector Profit Down

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Yesterday the Department of Health (DOH) reported that the number of people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the country is projected to hit 32,379 by the end of 2014.

We always wonder at how DOH drums up updated figures on HIV/AIDS cases in the country.

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Selfie Projects

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Before I go into that, our reader Inday Berroya emailed that the tip I shared last week about cleaning recyclables in laundry washing actually has a name. Luz Sabas, the lady who thought of this method calls it the "babad pail" technique. Apparently, Ms. Sabas has been developing tips since the 60s. I thank her for keeping at it. God knows we still need reminding.

Yesterday, Rep. Lito Atienza was shown on TV blasting the LTFRB for not fixing the problem of too many buses on EDSA. He was furious that the LTFRB has not solved it after one year. Oh, hush Lito. You sat as Environment Secretary for years and did nothing about solid waste management. And now you're upset with lazy people. Serves you right.

Now, on to selfie projects. A recent news report disclosed that the Philippine Ozone Desk (POD) under the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is at a quandary about disposing ozone-depleting substances (ODS). Their reason? The carbon credit market is down. What a lame excuse. The environment is at risk and the DENR is looking away. But why?

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