As Filipinos usher in the Duterte government and his promise of change,
environmental activists gathered anew outside the Embassy of Canada in Makati City
to denounce the long-drawn-out Canadian garbage dumping scandal that has
haunted the outgoing Aquino administration.
At a peaceful rally organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and Buklod Tao, the
activists called out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his government’s failure
to re-import the illegal trash shipments that have been rotting in Manila and Subic ports.
“We ask PM Trudeau not to saddle the Duterte government with these overstaying
containers of reeking garbage from Canada. His government must move quickly to repossess
these illegal shipments for environmentally-sound disposal in Canada,” said
Noli Abinales, President of the EcoWaste
Coalition, a watch group on chemicals and wastes.
“Removing Canada’s garbage from our ports
will be viewed as a meaningful gesture of goodwill towards the new government
and put this hullabaloo behind us,” he pointed out.
To get their message across loud and clear, the protestors paraded 12 mock
garbage-filled shipping containers bearing Canada’s iconic maple leaf and unveiled a banner that says “PM Trudeau: What
ever happened to the ‘Canadian
solution’? For the sake of justice, take back garbage now!”
On the fringe of the APEC Summit last year,
Trudeau stated that a “Canadian solution” is being developed to address the dumping
controversy that had remained unresolved for far too long.
The Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable
Economy (Green Convergence), Citizens’ Environmental Network (CEN) and the
Green Thumb Coalition (GTC) also joined the EcoWaste Coalition in appealing to
Trudeau to act fast on the matter.
possible so we can conclude this unhappy episode in Canada-Philippines
relations and move on,” said Dr. Angelina Galang, President of the Green
“I add my voice to the persistent call asking Canada to re-import their garbage
and bring this blatant case of environmental injustice to a close under the
Duterte presidency. We’ve waited long
enough, it’s time to return those stinking containers to where they came from,”
said “running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes, Lead Convenor, CEN.
Lawyer Aaron Pedrosa, one of the convenors of GTC and Secretary General of
Sanlakas said: “Canada has
to assume full responsibility for its illegal garbage export to the Philippines
that contravenes national and international laws. PM Trudeau must act fast with unflinching
resolve to put this matter to rest.”
It will be recalled that some 103 shipping containers of largely residual
household garbage declared as scrap plastics for recycling were illegally
exported to the Philippines
from 2013-2014. In 2015, garbage from 26
of these containers was unlawfully disposed of at a landfill in Tarlac, causing
A government-led waste characterization
study in 2014 confirmed that 63.94% of the garbage shipments were residuals,
which can no longer be recycled and should be properly disposed of.
Local authorities, including officials from the provincial governments of
Bulacan and Tarlac and the city governments of Navotas and Quezon Cities,
have rejected foreign waste disposal in landfill facilities operating within
The EcoWaste Coalition, which espouses environmental justice and zero waste,
has warned that “the disposal of the Canadian garbage in local landfills,
cement kilns and waste-to-energy facilities will be totally wrong and unacceptable,”
and will be in violation of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste
Management Act and related local regulations.
The group noted that “Canada,
a highly developed country, should have no problem dealing with their soiled
diapers, spent electronics, plastic junks and other rubbish right in their own
backyard,” stressing “there is no justification at all for their refuse to
remain in our soil to be buried or burned.”
In the proposed “Agenda on Wastes and Toxics for President Rodrigo Duterte’s
First 100 Days in Office” submitted by the EcoWaste Coalition to the Duterte
team in Davao City last May 18, the group requested the new government to
“order the re-export of Canadian garbage back to its origin and initiate policy
reforms to effectively block foreign waste dumping in the country, including
ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment.”