Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda’s Earth Day 2024 Message

April 22, 2024

My dearest fellow Filipinos, we are running out of Earth Days. If, on the first Earth Day, we set about to reach even a modicum of sustainability in 50 years, we would have failed. We are in year 54, and the planet has not shifted gears. I can still name a list of problems that existed in 1970 on the very first Earth Day, still challenging us, and today, we have hundreds more issues to grapple with.

I speak of a deadline because all things must end somehow.  Will we allow a tragic end when having already known the problems besetting us, we will still continue on the same path, knowing full well what it will bring?

The theme of this Earth Day is Planet vs Plastics.  With its proliferation and ubiquity, plastic does not seem like an enemy. Because it is everywhere and we are surrounded, it might seem like we are fighting a losing battle.  Every one of us declining that straw, plastic bag or utensil is confronted by hoards who do not seem to care that we are leaving a future of plastics to our children, not just in the environment but in their own flesh.

If we keep doing our part, people will eventually realize that plastic is an invasive material, littering our streets, rivers and oceans and once they break down, poisoning our bodies. It is a battle we are losing because too many surrender.

But that can be all it takes — refusal. We in the legislature are doing what we can to stem the tide of plastics and other environmental hazards. That is our part. I call on those who practice or teach zero waste, those who wish to do the responsible thing, those who refuse to leave a world of plastic waste to their children, this is what we all have to do.  Miracles happen when we do our part. We sometimes do not realize that our part is a small sliver of the waves of people doing the right thing.

My law, RA 9003, is as relevant today as when it was passed. I ask you this Earth Day, with six more years before our deadlines for Sustainable Development Goals and conserving 30% of the world’s habitats, to stop being neutral and take a side for yourselves and humanity. Take the side of a plastic-free planet.