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Canadians back Philippine plea to take back waste
Publication Date : 20-04-2014
Even Canadians want their government to take back the trash that was shipped from their country to the Philippines.
More than 11,000 Canadians have signed a Filipino-initiated petition for the Canadian government to “re-export” some 50 containers of adult diapers and household waste held at the Manila container port in January, a shipment that has drawn criticism from environment and health groups here.
In an update on petition platform Change.org, petition starter Anna Kapunan said “more Canadians are empathetic to the issue,” one that a coalition of Philippine organisations has been actively pushing for resolution by the Canadian government.
The Philippine Bureau of Customs found on Jan. 21 that the shipment, declared as “scrap plastic materials for recycling,” actually contained waste materials, including adult diapers and other household waste.
Ontario-based Chronic Inc. shipped the containers to Manila through its Valenzuela-based consignee Chronic Plastics. The vans remain unclaimed at the port in Manila, worrying local groups of the shipment’s possible hazard to public health and the environment. The firm has denied it shipped anything illegal.
“I can’t even comprehend the reasons why these containers would ship to the Philippines. How horrible for the Philippines!!! This definitely should be stopped and Canadian garbage should remain on Canadian soil for Canadians to deal with. I’m truly sorry this is happening. Here’s hoping our petitions and government can make it stop,” said Roxanne Letourneau of Winnipeg, Canada, commenting on the petition.
Susan Dales of Mississauga, Ontario, wondered why it was taking so long for the issue to be resolved.
“The fact that now, in April, this illegal hazardous waste has not been totally cleaned up and all involved agencies, government in the Philippines have not been reimbursed is disgusting. As a Canadian, I’m insulted,” said Dales, who hails from the same province where the shipment came from.
“It is my hope that the fine (there will be one, right!) imposed on the offending Ontario company will be of such size as to deter any other party anywhere in the world from attempting the same action. And maybe a jail sentence?” she said.
Jean McLaren of Gabriola, Canada, among some 1,326 Canadians who posted a comment on the petition, said it was “disgusting” for Canada to export its trash.
“I think it is appalling that Canada would send our garbage to the Philippines. We have no right to do that.”
The coalition, composed of ANG NARS Party-List, Greenpeace, Ecowaste Coalition, Mother Earth Foundation, Green Convergence, Ban Toxics, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation and the Ateneo School of Government, on Monday handed over their petition to the Canadian Embassy in Manila.
In a recent interview, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Neil Reeder said the Canadian government was “trying to resolve it as quick as we can.”
“Well right now, we are examining this issue between our government and the government of the Philippines to determine what exactly has transpired that would bring us to a situation where these containers have now arrived and the allegations that they were not brought here properly,” Reeder said.
“We don’t want this to be a stain on our very, very good relationship (between Canada and the Philippines),” he said.
The BOC earlier called on Canada to take back the shipment under the 1995 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and Their Disposal, which provides that “the exporting country must take back the waste materials if the receiving country refuses to accept them.”
The Philippines and Canada are among the 180 signatories to the agreement.
The BOC also filed criminal charges against Chronic Plastics last month for violations of the Revised Penal Code, the Tariff and Customs Code and the 1990 Toxic Waste act.