The Canadian government’s approval to process waste sent to the Philippines “sets a dangerous precedent for other countries” to also use Philippine soil as dumping grounds, Senator Miriam Santiago said. Filing Senate Resolution 1341, Santiago said the trash, placed in 50 container vans sitting in Philippine ports, should be returned to Canada.
“This issue goes beyond waste management and threatens our sovereignty. I am alarmed that the government seems willing to say that we are an international trash bin out of fear of ruffling Canada’s feathers,” Santiago said in a Philippine Star report.
Santiago said Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs earlier ruled out negotiations to return the illegal shipment to Canada. A multi-agency task force, meanwhile, also allegedly agreed to locally process the waste, which includes household waste such as used adult diapers, she said. Santiago believes waste shipment is not purely a commercial transaction between private companies Ontario-based Chronic Inc. and Manila-based Chronic Plastics.
Citing Article 9 of the Basel Convention, the senator insisted that Canada is responsible for the waste and has an obligation to take it back. The provision states that in cases of a transboundary movement of wastes, the exporting government should ensure that wastes are “taken back by the exporter or the generator” or “disposed of” within 30 days from the time the exporting state has been informed of the illegal traffic.
Santiago said the issue is also covered by Annex 2 of the international agreement which includes wastes collected from households.
“The arduousness of complaint or arbitration mechanisms before an international tribunal should not hinder the government from asserting that the export ofwastes from Canadaviolates the Basel Convention,” she said.
Last year, Santiago also filed Senate Resolution 919 urging senators to investigate the issue in aid of legislation.
The Philippine Star also reported that Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder had said that the two countries are working together to resolve the garbage problem.
“ It was a private matter that we learned about as a government. It was not our choice to bring that waste here. We have found a solution which is local processing of that waste,” Reeder said.
He also said there are misconceptions about the waste that environmental groups have espoused.
“We have done a complete study of the waste and it is primarily plastics and household waste. There is nothing toxic in it,” Reeder said in the Philippine Star report.