04 May 2015

Labor Groups Weigh In On Canada’s Garbage Shipment to the Philippines

On the eve of his departure to Canada for a State Visit on May 7-9, the country’s major labor groups urged President Benigno S. Aquino III to press Prime Minister Stephen Harper to order the immediate return of some 50 container vans of mixed Canadian garbage lying at Manila and Subic ports.

Zero waste groups led by the EcoWaste Coalition had earlier branded the garbage dumping as “a blatant case of environmental injustice” violating global and national laws meant to combat illegal transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and other wastes.

“The speedy repatriation of Canada’s garbage shipment for environmentally-sound disposal in their country is a matter of serious concern for all Filipinos, including the working class, and should be a priority objective for Aquino’s state visit,” stated  Josua Mata, Secretary-General, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Mangggagawa (SENTRO).

“In his meeting with Prime Minister Harper, we expect President Aquino to make a strong and unequivocal plea for Canada to simply take back its trash and refute the misguided proposition coming from some bureaucrats to dispose of the garbage locally,” said Allan Tanjusay, Spokesman and Policy Advocacy Officer of the Associated Labor Unions – Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

“Our government should not cave in to such a preposterous non-solution that constitutes an open invitation to garbage smugglers to continue with their illegal trade because they can easily get away with it,” noted Gie Relova, Secretary-General, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino – National Capital Region (BMP-NCR).

"Our waste and sanitation workers have more than enough domestic trash to manage.  The imported garbage from Canada puts a heavy burden on our workers and environment and should be sent back at once," said Wilson Fortaleza, Spokesperson, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

The labor groups emphasized that returning the garbage shipment to Canada for treatment in appropriate  facilities fully equipped with functional pollution prevention and control features will protect Filipino workers at local ports and waste disposal plants against occupational exposure to biological, chemical and physical hazards from the reeking rubbish.

Environmental groups were quick to commend the labor groups for throwing their weight behind the vocal movement for environmental justice against waste dumping.

“We  laud our labor leaders and the mass of workers they represent for magnifying our call  for environmental justice and for asserting that our country is not a cheap dumping ground for wastes and toxics from overseas,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.     

The EcoWaste Coalition, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, Ang NARS Party List and many other groups and individuals, including the over 25,000 signatories to an online petition on change.org, have asked the Canadian government to take back their trash, a plea that remains unheeded to date.  
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