By Chito Chavez
More cause-oriented groups have pressed the Canadian government to take back its garbage left languishing in the country for several years.
The urgent call was made despite the assurance of Canadian Ambassador John Holmes that his country remains committed in addressing the garbage dumping case.
On Tuesday, President Duterte demanded the immediate return of the illegal garbage shipment to Canada.
Reacting to Duterte’s pronouncement, Holmes on Wednesday said, “Our Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau) committed and has recommitted to resolving this issue, including taking the waste back to Canada.”
The diplomat’s reaction, described by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo as “quick but vague,” failed to placate civil society groups tired of the Canadian government’s sluggish efforts to reclaim their garbage in 103 container vans that were unlawfully shipped to Manila from 2013 to 2014.
“Canada should act swiftly to retrieve their garbage from our country. No more promises. It has ignored us for six long years. We do not deserve such disrespect, much less the damage wrought by their garbage on our environment and affected communities,” said Joey Papa, president, Bangon Kalikasan Movement.
“The period of making vague promises and statements is over. We expect Prime Minister Trudeau to order without any precondition the speedy reshipment of the reeking garbage to Canada where it belongs. Any scheme to get the garbage processed, buried or burned in the Philippines will be totally unacceptable,” stated Rene Pineda, president of the Consumer Rights to Safe Food.
“Our patience has already run out. Canada now has to assume full responsibility for its wastes that have been languishing in our land since 2013. Please reimport your rubbish so we can move on,” added Ochie Tolentino, coordinator of Cavite Green Coalition.
“The urgent removal of the illegal Canadian waste imports from our country can no longer be delayed. Their continued presence in our country is an affront to the rule of law and to our environmental rights, Prime Minister Trudeau must act without delay,” asserted Tessa Oliva, executive director, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy.
“Prime Minister Trudeau has no other option but to take back their garbage to put this long standing irritant between Canada and the Philippines to rest. It’s the only decent, moral, and legal thing to do to bring this mess behind us,” said Sonia Mendoza, chairman of Mother Earth Foundation.
“We hope that the clamor for Canada to get their trash out of the Philippines will not again fall on deaf ears. We remain optimistic that our long struggle for environmental justice will soon draw to a close, so we can focus on preventing the hideous dumping of wastes and toxics into our country from happening again,” said Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.
Next week, environmental advocates will gather to push for Canada’s immediate compliance with the ultimatum issued by Duterte for the long overdue re-export of the overstaying Canadian garbage to its origin, in line with its obligations under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.