People who have been religiously following the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona may be surprised to find a more environment-friendly 'Season 2,' when the defense panel starts its presentation of evidence at the widely watched proceedings beginning Monday.
In a memorandum submitted to senators dated March 7, Senate Secretary Emma Lirio Reyes informed the chamber's 23 members that instead of distributing bottled water to senators, witnesses, and members of the prosecution and defense teams during session and the impeachment trial, three water dispensers will be set up inside the chamber, including two at the session hall and one at the senators' lounge.
The chamber's decision to stop using bottled water in session was made upon the suggestion of Sen. Pia Cayetano, who felt that the institution should set a positive example to the public by doing away with practices that are wasteful and harmful to the environment. The bottles can be prominently seen on top of the desks of senators and prosecution and defense lawyers, and on the witness stand in the course of the trial's live marathon coverage.
"May we inform that, upon the recommendation of the Honorable Pia Cayetano, two (2) water dispensers inside the session hall, one (1) water dispenser at the Senators' lounge and individual glasses will be provided for use during session and impeachment proceedings, in lieu of the bottled water distributed to the Honorable Senators, prosecution and defense teams," the memorandum signed by Reyes said.
"This is proposed in line with our efforts to make the Senate a more environmentally conscious government agency," it added.
The memorandum was in response to a letter earlier sent by Cayetano who suggested the shift.
In her letter dated February 28, Cayetano said, "We are well aware of the detrimental effects of plastic bottles on the environment from its manufacture to its disposal. In the 24 days of the impeachment proceedings, we have contributed a considerable number of plastic bottles which produce a tremendous impact on the environment." She suggested that the legislative pages can draw drinking water from the said dispensers and give the same to requesting parties.
"The Senator or member of the defense and prosecution teams may opt to bring their own glass or use the ones provided by the Senate," the senator added.
It may be recalled that it was also upon Cayetano's suggestion that the Office of the Senate Secretary ordered the establishment of a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and enforce a ban on plastic bags within the institution's premises last year. The move resulted in the immediate reduction of the garbage being generated by the Senate by 50 percent.
"I laud the Secretariat for its efforts to make the Senate a more environmentally conscious government agency--The aforementioned shift from bottled water to the use of water dispensers will just be a continuation of the prior efforts of the Senate," her letter also said.
The development also takes special relevance as the countries mark 'World Water Day' on March 22, which calls for a sustainable environment and emphasizes efficient use of water resources.