By Chito Chavez
The environmental group EcoWaste Coalition has welcomed the assurance of the Canadian government that it will pay for shipping the garbage languishing in the Philippines since 2013 back to Canada.
On Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DNR) noted that the Canadian government “is committed to shouldering all the expenses to ship out all the 69 waste containers.”
EcoWaste Coalition said “prudence and the law dictate that the Canadian government should cover the cost of the repatriation of its waste, including the reimbursement of the expenses of the Philippine government for holding it for many years.”
“We welcome Canada’s assurance that it will bear all the necessary expenses toward the removal of their garbage out of the Philippines,” said Aileen Lucero, the group’s national Coordinator.
“Being the State of export, Canada has the legal, moral and financial responsibility to take back their trash, as well as ensure just reparation for the pollution caused by this illegal waste trafficking,” she said.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the May 15 deadline for the re-export of the Canadian garbage will be realized,” she added.
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, which lists Canada and the Philippines among the state parties, stipulates that parties “shall not oppose, hinder or prevent the return of those wastes to the State of export.”
Article 9 of the treaty obliges the State of export to ensure the return of wastes within 30 days from the time the State of export was notified of the illegal traffic.
The Philippine government notified Canada about the illegal waste traffic as early as March 2014, and have sought Canada’s assistance in returning the shipment.
The group asked the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to explain how the waste from eight of the 103 shipping container of Canadian garbage were disposed of locally, noting that only 26 containers were disposed of at the Metro Clark landfill in Capas, Tarlac in 2015.
According to the information received by the EcoWaste Coalition from Customs in response to its query, Chronic Inc. shipped 103 containers in several batches to two Philippine-based companies, Chronic Plastic and Live Green Enterprise, from 2013 to 2014.
Out of the 103 containers, 34 were locally disposed of, Customs said.
“We are keen to know what happened to the Canadian wastes from the eight containers. The authorities need to tell the public when, where and how the wastes were disposed of and who paid for their disposal. We, the people, have the right to know,” Lucero said.
Two of the remaining containers are at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) and 67 are at the Subic Bay International Terminal Corporation (SBITC),’’ Customs said.