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2 November 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippine narrative on addressing the issue of lead in paint is one that is characterized by the inclusive approach adopted by the government in formulating regulations, the leadership role played by the private sector, and the vigilance of civil society.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC emphasized this narrative in presenting the Philippine experience in the adoption of a national policy to phase out lead in paint in order to protect human health and the environment.

The presentation was made at the forum entitled The Elimination of Lead in Paint: How Countries Can Take Action, sponsored by the Canadian Government, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Health Organization (WHO), and the United States Government, held on 29 October at the Canadian Embassy. The event was part of the activities for the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action that ran from October 25 to 31, and was attended by diplomats, US Government officials, UNEP/WHO officials, and civil society representatives.

The Philippine presentation described the general legal framework governing toxic substances in the Philippines under the umbrella of Republic Act 6969. It then traced the multi-stakeholder process of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in working with the private sector and civil society towards a national regulation adopting the international threshold limit for lead in paint. This regulation sets a three-year phase out period (2013-2016) for lead-containing architectural, household and decorative paints, and a six-year phase out (2013-2019) for industrial paints. The presentation also outlined the leadership role of the private sector in the process, including the industry’s drive towards green innovation and leading the discussions on proper lead paint remediation. The vigilance of civil society in monitoring compliance with the regulation was also underscored, as well as its role in creating more awareness about lead poisoning.

The Philippine narrative was lauded by participants of the Forum as a best practice that could be shared and replicated elsewhere.

According to the Lead Paint Alliance convened under the auspices of WHO and UNEP, paint that contains lead additives poses a risk of lead poisoning, especially for young children. No level of lead exposure is considered safe, and the environmental, health and economic impacts of lead are grave. Children exposed to lead in homes, schools and toys are reported to have developed lifelong learning disabilities, anemia and disorders in coordination and language skills.

The Forum at the Canadian Embassy was one of the activities organized during Lead Poisoning Prevention Week to create awareness over the risks posed by lead in paint and what countries around the globe can do to reduce this threat to the environment and to human health. The Philippines, together with Canada, Kenya and Uruguay, was invited to share its experience in developing and enacting lead paint legislation.

The presentation was developed by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau, together with the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers and civil society represented by the EcoWaste Coalition and the International POPs Elimination Network. It was delivered by Minister and Consul Jose Victor Chan-Gonzaga of the Philippine Embassy.

In a statement, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. congratulated the DENR-EMB for its work on toxic substances, under the leadership of DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje and DENR Assistant Secretary Juan Miguel T. Cuna.

“The Philippine Government remains committed to our collective objective of eliminating lead in paint. This is our pledge to our environment and to the health of our people, and that of our children’s children,” Ambassador Cuisia also said. ###