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PIA Press Release
2010/01/28

Senate urged to pass bill banning asbestos

Manila (28 January) -- With the end of the official session of the 14th Congress on February 5, 2010 fast approaching, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), the Associated Labor Unions (ALU) and the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) launched an email campaign urging the Senate to pass Senate Bill 741 banning asbestos.

The email campaign calls on the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce to integrate workers concerns in the bill filed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago to minimize the risks of asbestos exposure to workers, their families and the public. The bill has been pending with the Committee since August 29, 2007. A similar bill passed earlier in the House of Representatives.

"Asbestos is a danger to everyone because asbestos fibers penetrate deep into the lungs once inhaled, causing incurable and fatal asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer," says Rafael Mapalo, TUCP deputy spokesperson. "There is no safe level of exposure and the most effective way to protect people from asbestos exposure is to ban the substance," adds Mapalo.

"Workers, their families and the public are exposed to asbestos in workplaces, buildings and materials containing asbestos," says Gerard Seno, ALU National Vice President. "By banning its use the government will be protecting Filipinos from the health and safety hazards of asbestos exposure," adds Seno.

"A recent study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reconfirmed the cancer-causing effects of asbestos, leaving the prevailing medical evidence against asbestos irrefutable," shares Apolinar Tolentino, Officer in Charge of the BWI Asia Pacific Regional Office. "The more asbestos ban is delayed, the more workers, their families and the public are at risk," warns Tolentino.

Senate Bill 741 with proposed amendments seeks to minimize the risks of asbestos exposure and lays down the framework for the early detection and diagnosis of asbestos-related diseases.

TUCP, ALU and BWI encourage their members and their contacts and the public nationwide to participate in the email campaign, found at http://tinyurl.com/ban-asbestos in the TUCP website. TUCP and BWI help in bringing in international support to the campaign.

Senders must type in their name, email address, municipality/city/province and union or organization, may use the existing message, and must click the Submit button at the bottom of the page. The email goes to Senator Mar Roxas as the Committee Chair copy furnished the Senate President and members of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce.

The email campaign will help push the Senate to act on the urgency of banning asbestos. Any delay causes more exposure that will result in contracting asbestos related diseases and deaths in the years to come. (DMT/PIA-Surigao del Norte) [top]

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