By Nelson Flores, LlB., MSCK
A COALITION of environmentalists and a labor center demanded that the Canadian government provide a timeline to show when it will take out the toxic waste it illegally shipped to the Philippines months after it pledged to do so.
The demand was made in the middle of this week by EcoWaste Coalition and the Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa’s (SENTRO) out of concern that Canada’s promise to resolve the long-drawn-out dumping controversy by taking back its waste will end up as an empty promise.
The two groups, which are firmly opposed to foreign waste dumping in the country, reiterated the need to put the garbage dumping issue to a close as the Philippine Earth Month is observed this April as per Proclamation 1482 issued on April 10, 2008 by then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
It will be recalled that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a press conference on the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit last November 2017, assured incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte of his government’s commitment to resolve the garbage issue. He said that “it is now theoretically possible to take (their rubbish) back.”
On January 26, participants of the 2018 Zero Waste Conference organized by the EcoWaste Coalition wrote to PM Trudeau to remind him to keep his November promise. However, more than four months have already passed since then and the Canadian government has yet to do something about its waste.
“Over four months have already lapsed and we remain clueless as to when Canada’s garbage will be finally shipped out. As this is a matter of national concern and pride, it is only just and proper for us, the people, to demand transparency from the authorities as to what is being done to settle the problem,” said SENTRO Secretary General Josua Mata.
The EcoWaste Coalition, for its part, said it is hoping that Trudeau’s earlier statement is not just a tactic to allow the Canadian government to abscond from its obligation to do what is right for the environment and the Filipino nation.
“We hope Canada is not purposely keeping our people in the dark about its efforts to rectify this festering environmental justice issue. PM Trudeau can quickly erase any suspicion by publicly disclosing his government’s plan and timetable for re-importing Canada’s garbage, which they cannot delay any further. We have the right to know and to expect PM Trudeau to honor what he said he would do,” said EcoWaste Coalition National Coordinator Aileen Lucero.
The EcoWaste Coalition and SENTRO are among the intervenors in Criminal Case No. 143-11191 against the Canadian trash importer Adelfa Eduardo and customs broker Sherjun Saldon for violation of Republic Act 6969 (the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act), that is being heard by Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 1 Judge Tita Bughao-Alisuag.
In 2013 and 2014, a total of 103 shipping containers of mostly residual garbage from Canada disguised as scrap plastics for recycling entered the Philippines. Twenty-six of these garbage-filled containers were unlawfully disposed of in 2015 at a privately-run landfill facility in Tarlac.
On November 22, 2017, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority sought the urgent removal of the remaining containers of Canadian trash from the Subic port as the stench has become “unbearable” and posed “health hazards.”
On December 4, 2017, Senate President Koko Pimentel proposed a legislative inquiry “to determine whether there are sufficient laws restricting the indiscriminate entry and dumping of solid waste and other forms of harmful trash into the Philippines,” citing “the monumental consequences of allowing Canadian garbage to remain in the country.” (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2017/12/08/ph-environmentalists-lauded-senates-move-to-probe-stinking-canadian-trash/)