Environmental groups admire vigilance of netizens in sky lanterns issue
CEBU CITY, Philippines – It was the vigilance of netizens in calling out a potential environmental hazard that led to the cancelled plan of a French restaurant to release hundreds of wish-bearing sky lanterns in Cebu City.
Oceana Philippines and Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC), two environmental organizations led by Cebuano lawyers, lauded the vocal opinions of netizens for opposing the plan of mountain restaurant La Vie in the Sky to release sky lanterns in a Sinulog party.
The statement, jointly signed by lawyers Gloria Estenzo Ramos and Rose Liza Eisma Osorio, noted that they “admire and are tremendously inspired by the quick response of our netizens.”
“This goes to show how empowered citizens can really create ripples of change,” said the statement.
In a story ran by Cebu Daily News Digital on Sunday, January 5, both Ramos and Osorio opposed the releasing of the sky lanterns due to environmental and aviation concerns.
Osorio said sky lanterns can be sucked into an aircraft’s engine when airborne and may lead to a distaster.
Ramos, on the other hand, likened sky lanterns to plastics, which can end up in the waters or inland. This trash might be mistaken by land and water wildlife as food.
These wastes becomes litter, which violates Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
“The message is clear: Let us all be better stewards and not add to the destruction of our already ravaged planet,” said the joint statement.
The statement also compared the sky lantern issue to the aborted plan of Okada Manila to release 130,000 balloons for Guinness World Records that was strongly resisted by citizens amid stern warning from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The two organizations reminded everyone of the consequences of actions, which have impacts on natural life support systems and vulnerable sectors such as the fisherfolks, whose means of livelihood depend on a healthy ecosystem.
They said there is a strong legal framework to protect these rights including the right to a healthy and balanced ecology.
However, these laws badly need “courageous and compassionate public servants and citizens to make them real and to make our environment sustainable.”
“We are interconnected, each with a serious duty to protect our environment, our biodiversity and our people,” said the statement.
In a message to CDN Digital, Louis Thevenin, chief executive officer of La Vie, said that they immediately cancelled the releasing of sky lanterns, which was supposed to be part of their Sinulog party, after getting complaints from netizens.
Thevenin said the January 19 event will still feature a dinner buffet, free-flowing wine and a French DJ on the rooftop but will do away with the sky lanterns. /bjo
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