08 November 2017

PM Justin Trudeau Told: Rotting Garbage from Canada Still on Philippine Soil

Environmental, health and labor groups appealed anew to the Canadian government to take responsibility for the illegal garbage shipments from Vancouver rotting in the Port of Manila for years.

The groups asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is scheduled to visit the Philippines for the ASEAN Summit, to unilaterally take Canada’s rubbish out of the Philippines to put the long drawn out garbage scandal to rest.

“PM Trudeau’s action is crucial to remove all barriers to Canada’s re-importation of its own garbage that were exported to our country not for recycling, but for disposal,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  “We’re running out of room for our own garbage and the dumping of waste from overseas is only making the situation worst. Canada is rich and undeniably capable of handling its own refuse in a safe manner.”

“The prolonged delay in returning the reeking trash to Canada is patently unjust for our country and people.  It’s high time for PM Trudeau to decisively act to stop waste dumping, including ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits the movement of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries for any reason even for recycling,” said Dr. Leah Paquiz, former representative of the Ang Nars Party-List in the 16th Congress.

“As the source of the illicit trash shipments, the ball is in Canada’s court.  PM Trudeau could bring an end to this controversy that has festered for far too long by taking the garbage back and doing other corrective actions, including paying the Philippines for the costs incurred in dealing with Canada’s discarded adult diapers, domestic wastes, plastics and other residuals,” said Josua Mata, Secretary-General of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa and Progresibong Manggagawa. 

It will be recalled that between 2013-2014, a total of 103 shipping containers of mixed household garbage declared as scrap plastics for recycling were exported to the Philippines from Canada. 

The Bureau of Customs seized the said shipments by Chronic Inc. (a Canadian company) to Chronic Plastics (a Filipino company) after being alerted by the Environmental Management Bureau about the misrepresented waste imports.  The authorities eventually charged the consignee for violations of the country’s environmental, tariff and customs laws.

Subsequent waste characterization study conducted by the Philippine government revealed that 64% of the shipments were residual garbage that could no longer be recycled and should be properly disposed of. 

In June-July 2015, 26 of these garbage-filled containers were illegally disposed at the Metro Clark landfill in Capas, Tarlac causing public outcry and galvanizing vocal opposition against foreign waste disposal in local landfills.

In November 2015, Trudeau, who was in Manila for the APEC Summit, announced that a “Canadian solution (was) being developed” to fix the loopholes that led to the illegal garbage exports, but made no commitment to take the trash back.

In June 2016, Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch 1) ordered the return of 50 shipping containers (approximately 1,400 tons) of illegal garbage imports from Canada, stressing that the Philippines is not  a “trash bin” and that the dumping incident “should not be made a precedent for other countries to follow.”

As the case was limited only to 50 of the 103 container vans of illegal Canadian trash imports, civil society groups urged Canada, in the spirit of environmental justice, to voluntarily ensure the repatriation of all the illegal garbage shipments. 

“To avoid further embarrassment that would come with another legal decision, we suggest that Canada should just take back all its garbage, including those not covered by the said case,” the groups said.


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