June 21, 2024

Toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition gave the Baguio City government and the Food and Drug Administration-Cordillera a pat on the back for its recent moves to rid the city mercury-containing cosmetics.

“We applaud the combined forces of the Baguio City government and the FDA-Cordillera for their determined action against contraband cosmetics containing mercury, which is toxic to human health and the environment,” said EWC national coordinator Aileen Lucero.

“To put a stop to this illegal trade, we appeal to Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan and the city council to re-file and pass the proposed ordinance banning and penalizing the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of mercury-added cosmetics,” she added.

Last July 20, four teams comprising of staff from the city’s Permits and Licensing,  Public Order and Safety, and Sanitation Divisions and the FDA Regional Enforcement Unit North Luzon Cluster conducted synchronized inventory and seizure operations in response to the report sent by the EcoWaste Coalition about the unlawful sale of mercury-added cosmetics in the city.

The simultaneous law enforcement operations in four locations at the central business district netted hundreds of banned cosmetic products worth P100,000, drawing cheers from EWC.

Last July 1, the group wrote to Mayor Benjamin Magalong to notify city authorities about the persistent trade of banned cosmetics such as Goree, Jiaoli, and S’Zitang skin whitening products in the city.

In pursuit of the general welfare provision under the Local Government Code, the group requested the city government to constitute a team that will look into its report and conduct law enforcement activities, including random store inspection and confiscation of banned products and their safe disposal.

As pointed out by the group to Magalong, the unrelenting sale of mercury-containing cosmetics goes against the objective of the Minamata Convention, a legally-binding treaty that aims “to protect the human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.”  

The convention directs the phase-out in 2020 of the manufacture, import or export of cosmetics such as skin lightening creams and soaps with mercury content above one ppm.  Also, the sale of such products violates national laws such as the Republic Act 7394 or the Consumer Act, which prohibits adulterated cosmetics or those containing any poisonous or deleterious substance, and Food and Drug Administration Act, which prohibits health products, including cosmetics that are adulterated, unregistered, or misbranded. – Press release