EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Lawmakers’ Action to Put Canada Garbage Controversy to Rest

The environmental watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the lawmakers’ initiative to bring the Canadian trash dumping controversy to an end. 

The House Committee on Ecology led by  Rep. Amado S. Bagatsing recently wrote to Canada’s House of Commons (a component of the  Parliament of Canada) to ask Canada to re-import the over 50 shipping containers of mixed garbage that arrived in Manila ports in June to September 2013, as well as those that were exported afterwards.

Bagatsing’s letter was e-mailed last August 25 to Canada’s parliamentary Standing Committee of Environment and Sustainable Development with copies of the letter provided to Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje.

“We welcome the effort of our lawmakers  to reach out to their Canadian counterparts to put the garbage dumping scandal to rest,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It would have been better if the letter was sent months earlier since the Canadian parliament has been dissolved since August 2, ending all business in the Senate and the House of Commons, and politicians are busy campaigning for the October 19 polls,” she pointed out.

“We can only hope that Canadian politicians on the campaign trail, with the help of the media and the public, would take notice of our own lawmakers’ plea for environmental justice and act sooner,” she added.

The group recalled that as early as September 2014, Ang NARS Party-List Rep. Leah Paquiz filed House Resolution 1525 calling on the House Committee on Ecology to investigate the illegal importation of mixed wastes from Canada. 

In their letter to their counterpart committee in Canada, the House Committee on Ecology invoked the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal as basis for their submission.

The Committee specifically cited paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the treaty on “Illegal Traffic” stating that “the State of export shall ensure that the illegal traffic are either: (a) taken back by the exporter or the generator or, if necessary, by itself into the State of export; or, if impracticable, (b) 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,” 

“It must be underscored that its provisions, intentions and underlying principles for governments to take due diligence and responsibility on illegal traffic activities, most specially on wastes emanating from their country, must be diplomatically resolved,” the letter said.

“In this connection, we would like to express our united position that the 50 container vans of waste, including those waste exported thereafter, be shipped back by the government of Canada itself, since it cannot compel the shipper to return its containers to Canada pursuant to the Basel Convention,” it emphasized. 

The Committee, according to Bagatsing, noted as “unfortunate” a statement made by the Canadian envoy “that there is no current domestic law, which your government could apply to compel the shipper to return its containers to Canada.”

“While criminal cases were already lodged against the Chronic Plastics, a company to which shipment was consigned, the House Ecology Committee opts to seek refuge in the fact that governments of the Philippines and Canada are signatories to the Basel Convention since 1989,” the letter stated.

Bagatsing further noted that the House Committee on Ecology is against the disposal of the illegal Canadian garbage in any place within the Philippine national territory.