Lawmakers Express Support for the Repatriation of Canada’s Garbage Shipment

Lawmakers, including Liberal Party, Nacionalista Party and party-list representatives, have joined the chorus of voices asking President Benigno S. Aquino III to ensure that the long-drawn-out problem with the unlawful shipment of mixed garbage from Canada is fully addressed during his upcoming State Visit on May 7-9.

During the past few days, environmental and labor groups issued statements calling on President Aquino to seek the immediate repatriation of 50 container vans of discards imported from Canada starting June 2013 in the guise of “recyclable plastics,” but which later proved to be heterogenous wastes upon the inspection of customs and environmental authorities.

Akbayan Party-List Rep. Barry Gutierrez, Ang NARS Party-List Rep. Leah Paquiz, Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Neri Colmenares, Liberal Party Rep Atong Asilo and Nacionalista Party Rep. Carlos Padilla aired their support through e-mail and text messages received by the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The bilateral meeting between President Aquino and Prime Minister Stephen Harper provides a proper venue for our government to obtain Canada’s commitment to re-import their stockpiles of garbage now lying at Manila and Subic ports.  Failing to raise this matter during the State Visit will not be favorable to our people’s well-being and our nation’s sovereignty,” stated Ang NARS Rep. Paquiz.

Rep. Paquiz had filed House Resolution1525 in September 2014 calling on the House Committee on Ecology to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, of the botched mixed waste garbage shipment from Canada.

"The stacked garbage shipments evoke a very important public health policy concern and environmental issue that must be addressed with great concern and urgency.  We hope the upcoming President's state visit to Canada could open door for both governments to finally resolve the ongoing environmental impasse. At the end of the day, we cannot allow our country to become the dumping ground of others' trash," Akbayan Rep. Gutierrez said.

"The President for sure is keen to bring this problem with Canada’s garbage shipment to a close.  I hope that Canada, with whom our country has good diplomatic relations, will show greater flexibility and voluntarily arrange for the return of the unwanted trash.  Such a gesture will further bolster our good ties with Canada,” said Deputy Speaker and Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla (Nacionalista Party).

“I appeal to the President to negotiate for the speedy return of the intercepted waste shipment to Canada in order to put this long-drawn-out controversy behind us,” added Manila 1st District Rep. Benjamin Asilo (Liberal Party).

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said:  “Liberalization has exacted a heavy toll not only to the development of the country but its environment as well.  Countries like Canada and Japan have exported their garbage to  our country.  The policy of liberalization has got to stop before it wreaks more havoc to the Philippines.  If the trash from Canada is not sent back as soon as possible then we may have to investigate it in Congress and go all out to block other efforts to further liberalize our economy.”

The EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the statements made by the lawmakers as the group expressed its optimism that President Aquino would take the lawmakers’ words to heart.  The group is working with Ang NARS Party List and several environmental and health organizations to have the botched garbage shipment returned to Canada without further delay.