Fate of local importer of Canadian garbage up to PH courts – envoy

Published July 2, 2019, 12:55 PM

by Dr. Eduardo Gonzales

By Roy Mabasa 

Running after the local importer of the tons of Canadian wastes that were shipped to the Philippines almost six years ago is now an issue for the Philippine courts to resolve, the top Canadian diplomat in Manila said Monday night.

PH-CANADA RELATIONS BACK TO NORMAL. Canadian Ambassador John Holmes on the sidelines of the 152nd Canada Day reception hosted by the CanCham of the Philippines at Fairmont Makati on Monday (July 1, 2019) night. He said Philippines-Canada relations are "good and are only going to get better". (PHOTO FROM PNA/ Joyce  Rocamora/ MANILA BULLETIN)
 Canadian Ambassador John Holmes (PHOTO FROM PNA/ Joyce Rocamora/ MANILA BULLETIN)

“That’s an issue for the Philippine court. I think (DFA) Secretary (Teodoro) Locsin said that publicly and tweeting, he said that’s the plan… That’s not a Canadian issue,” Canadian Ambassador John Holmes told journalists at the sidelines of the Canada Day reception in Makati City.

On the part of the government in Ottawa, Holmes said the Canadian company which exported it did not commit any illegal act at the time when the tons of garbage were shipped to the Philippines.

He noted that the issue of sending the containers back to Canada took some time due to the challenges posed by pending court cases and court orders in the Philippines that they have to “work through and respect.”

“That’s not a Canadian issue. You guys have reported it accurately. The Canadian company at that time exported legally so there’s no legal issue in Canada,” Holmes added.

In 2013, Ontario-based company Chronic, Inc. shipped more 100 container vans containing regular trash, dirty diapers, kitchen waste, and electronic items to its Philippine partner, Chronic Plastics and Live Green. At that time, there was no legal requirement for the Canadian exporter to notify their Environment and Climate Canada and to provide information about the waste and its origin.

It was only in November 2016 when Canada amended its Export and Import of Hazardous Waste law defining as “hazardous” any waste, including household waste that it was considered hazardous or controlled by an importing country that is a Party to the Basel Convention.

Over the weekend, the Anna Maerks, the ship carrying the 69 containers filled with rotting garbage, finally docked at Deltaport in Vancouver, more than a month after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered its immediate return to Canada.

Now that the diplomatic standoff is over, Holmes said relations between the two countries are “good” and they are now working closely together in different areas of partnership and cooperation.

“I think our relations are good. It was excellent cooperation in solving that waste issue. There’s a lot of areas that we’re working closely together with great cooperation with different ministries – agriculture, transport, ICT, high technology… These are all areas we are interested in and lots of areas of partnership. Relations are quite good,” he said.

To avoid a repetition of misunderstanding, the Canadian envoy said it will take both sides to put their minds together in coming up with creative solutions.

“The key thing is not waiting for certain developments to happen,” he said.