PM Trudeau urged to take back Canadian trash shipped to PHL

Environmentalists stage a protest at the foot of Mendiola bridge in Manila on Monday, May 4, as a send-off to President Aquino on his visit to Canada later this week. The group called on Aquino to demand that the Canadian government take back their illegal waste which has been languishing in the port of Manila.  (MNS photo)

Environmentalists stage a protest at the foot of Mendiola bridge in Manila on Monday, May 4, as a send-off to President Aquino on his visit to Canada later this week. The group called on Aquino to demand that the Canadian government take back their illegal waste which has been languishing in the port of Manila. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Nov 13 (Mabuhay) – Environmental, health, and labor leaders on Friday urged newly-installed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who will be in the Philippines next week, to take back the trash Canada shipped to the country in 2013.

“We hope that the winds of change blowing across Canada will lead to Trudeau’s Cabinet wasting no time to re-import the illegally exported garbage to the Philippines and bring this prolonged controversy to a close,” said Rene Pineda, vice-president of environmental watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition in a press statement.

Pineda said such action will show that Trudeau’s government does not and will not condone illegal garbage trade that is treating low and middle-income countries as dumps.

Twenty-six of the 50 container vans of waste shipped from Canada in 2013 were disposed of at the Metro Clark landfill in Capas, Tarlac, between June 26 to July 8, 2015.

EcoWaste said in May 2015, customs authorities discovered 48 more container vans of mixed garbage from Canada, consigned to Live Green Enterprises, bringing the total number of illegal Canadian waste shipments to 103 shipping containers.

Ang NARS party-list Rep. Leah Paquiz said lawmakers from both chambers of Congress believe the Philippine government must return the illegal garbage imports and that the Canadian government must take them back pursuant to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal to which Canada and the Philippines are state parties.

“In fact, the Committee on Ecology of the House of Representatives had written to its counterpart in the Canadian Parliament to express its ‘united position’ that the botched 50 containers of garbage shipments and those exported thereafter should be re-imported by Canada in line with the Basel Convention,” she said.

“We hope that Canadian lawmakers will cross party lines and unanimously back our position,” Paquiz said. “Let us all exercise ethical trade as we raise the gear to free trade.”

Shalimar Vitan, chief operations officer of Ban Toxics, said the Asia Pacific Economic Conference summit in Manila next week is a fitting occasion to re-think transhipment policies on waste and an opportunity for Trudeau to resolve the Canadian garbage issue.

“With PM Trudeau at the helm, we expect the Canadian government to turn around the previous stonewalling by the Harper government, to make things right and just, and take back the waste that Canada exported to the Philippines,” said Vitan.

The three expressed hope the Canadian garbage issue will be duly taken up and resolved during the bilateral meeting between Trudeau and President Benigno Aquino III.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that the importation of Canadian waste to the country was a violation of Basel Convention.

The Basel Convention states that in the case of an illegal movement of hazardous or other waste, the State of export shall ensure that the waste in question are:

(a)        taken back by the exporter or the generator or, if necessary, by itself into the State of export, or, if impracticable,

(b)        are otherwise disposed of in accordance with the provisions of this Convention, within 30 days from the time the State of export has been informed about the illegal traffic or such other period of time as States concerned may agree. To this end the Parties concerned shall not oppose, hinder or prevent the return of those wastes to the State of export.

Both Canada and the Philippines are signatories to the Basel Convention. (MNS)

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