Linisin angLipunan rally (photo courtesy of Ecowaste Coalition Facebook page)

Linisin angLipunan rally (photo courtesy of Ecowaste Coalition Facebook page)

MANILA, Mar 3 (Mabuhay) – The Ecowaste Coalition Monday requested the Philippine National Police (PNP) to stop the polluting practice of breaking impounded TVs and other electronic devices used in illicit gambling activities.

In a letter sent to Police Director-General Alan La Madrid Purisima, Ecowaste rebuffed the common practice of physically trashing illegal gambling apparatuses with sledgehammers, warning that mayors and police officials may be inadvertently turning a police matter into a health and environmental issue.

The letter, which was also sent to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, PNP Public Information Office (PNP-PIO) Director Reuben Theodore Sindac and National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Carmelo Valmoria, was prompted by the destruction last week of over 100 video karera (VK) machines at the NCRPO headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, TaguigCity.

The coalition recalled that 112 VK machines were also destroyed in Camp Bagong Diwa in March 2013.

“While commending the PNP for its relentless campaign against unlawful gambling operations, please allow us to express our legitimate objection over the unsafe manner of manually destroying the VK machines, particularly the TV sets, using sledgehammers.,” according to Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect coordinator.

Dizon said that gambling TVs, specifically the old analog TV sets, are loaded with harmful chemicals such as cadmium, lead, mercury and brominated flame retardants, to name a few.

He pointed out that the inappropriate destruction of gambling TVs causes their hazardous components to be dispersed not only in the immediate surroundings, but even in far-flung dumpsites and landfills where these are finally disposed of and thus contaminating the water, air and soil.

According to “Poison PCs and Toxic TVs,” “each computer or television display contains an average of 4 to 8 pounds of lead.

“When these components are illegally disposed and crushed in landfills, the lead is released into the environment, posing a hazardous legacy for current and future generations… These heavy metals and other hazardous substances found in electronics can contaminate groundwater and pose other environmental and public health risks,” it said.

The group also pointed out that some gambling machines may be coated with leaded paint, warning that improper destruction will disturb the lead-containing paint, creating and scattering toxic chips and dust that pose a health hazard to kids and adults alike.

Instead of smashing TVs and other devices used in illegal gaming activities, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the PNP to:

  • Issue a clear directive prohibiting the improper destruction of video karera gambling machines, particularly TV sets, by the use of mallets, sledgehammers and other devices, as well as by dumping or burning them.
  • Send the confiscated TVs and other electronic gambling paraphernalia to hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal (TSD) facilities duly accredited by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau for proper dismantling and recycling.
  • Donate undamaged and functional TV sets to needy schools and charitable institutions. (MNS)