By Genalyn Kabiling and Chino Leyco
Canada is willing to pay for the shipping cost of decaying garbage back to its country as the Philippines moved to ban trash imports, Malacañang announced Tuesday.
President Duterte has given Canada until May 15 to retrieve its garbage after deciding the country will no longer accept trash imports during a Cabinet meeting Monday at the Palace, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
“On the issue of garbage from Canada, the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources noted that the Canadian government is committed to shouldering all the expenses to ship out all the 69 waste containers,” Panelo said.
“The President gave May 15 as the deadline. If they cannot get that, then we will be shipping them out and throw into the shores or beach of Canada,” he said in a later Palace press briefing.
Panelo noted that Canada appeared willing to get back its garbage following the statement made by the President. “From what I gather, kukunin daw nila kasi may nag-report doon (they will get the trash because someone reported it),” he said.
And to prevent the country from becoming a trash dump site, Panelo announced that the President has directed the Bureau of Customs not to allow the entry of garbage imports into the country.
“The President is firm that we are not garbage collectors, thus he ordered that the Philippines will no longer accept any waste from any country,” he said.
Preparing to ship out
Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said all requirements and preparations on the part of the Philippine government have already been met to facilitate the re-export of 69 container vans containing wastes back to Canada by May 15.
However, despite the Philippine government’s readiness to re-export the wastes, the Canadian government informed that it might take weeks for them to arrange the necessary documents from their end and that they might not meet the May 15 deadline,” Guerrero said in his report to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez.
Guerrero said the Canadian documents pertain to import permits and the bidding of fumigation services for the containers, which Canada has agreed to pay. The Canadian government said these documents could take “a couple of weeks” to process.
The 69 container vans were what remained of the 103 container vans of garbage from Canada that were dumped in the ports of Subic and Manila in 2013 and 2014. Thirty-four of the containers were already disposed of. According to news reports, charges have been filed against the importer, broker and other individuals involved in bringing the shipment of trash to the Philippines.
A letter sent by Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Global Affairs Donald Bobiash and Associate Assistant Deputy Minister Helen Ryan to DENR Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna last April 24 confirmed the Canadian government’s commitment to “cover the costs of, and make the necessary arrangements to bring the waste materials contained in the 69 containers that remain in the Ports of Subic and Manila back to Canada, and to manage their disposal in Canada.”
On May 3, the two sides agreed that the DENR will shoulder the costs of inspection to determine the seaworthiness of the containers of wastes, while Canada will shoulder the costs of fumigation and the transfer/trucking services.
The environmental group EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the assurance of the Canadian government to pay for the shipping cost of the garbage. (With a report from Chito A. Chavez)