Groups reveal gov’t plan to dispose Canada waste in PHL

Quezon City – In a damning exposé of the government’s lack of
political will, environmental and public health groups held a
press conference today to uncover the plan of government agencies to
dispose of the illegally dumped Canadian toxic wastes in the

The groups revealed that several government agencies led by
the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Environment and
Natural Resources, and Bureau of Customs are keen on disposing the
illegally dumped Canadian toxic waste in the country instead of fighting to
have it sent back to Canada for violating international law.

“I will
not tolerate this matter sitting down. As a legislator, I filed for a
Congressional Inquiry in aid of legislation the unlawful importation of the
50 container vans filled with garbage. Clearly, this (dumping of wastes in
our country) is a reflection of our dignity as a nation,” said Rep. Leah
Paquiz of Ang Nars Party-list.

Earlier this year, the Bureau of Customs
(BOC) seized 50 container vans containing various waste materials and
hazardous wastes imported from Canada, with the consignee Chronic Plastics,
Inc. declaring the shipment as ‘assorted scrap plastic materials for
recycling’. Last month, 16 container vans have been sent to Subic Port to
ease the congested Port of Manila.

“The unauthorized movement of the
illegal shipments to Subic is proof that plans are afoot to have the waste
shipments disposed in country.  The letter from the DENR reinforces and
confirms this duplicitous intent on the part of our government authorities. 
We find it outrageous that the primary government agency mandated to protect
the environment is the main instigator of the proposal to have
these illegal waste shipments disposed of in our shores. Why should
Filipino taxpayers bear the burden associated with this illegal shipment?”
said Von Hernandez, president of EcoWaste Coalition and executive
director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“This government proposal sends
a signal to unscrupulous and illegal waste traders to ship their unwanted junk
to the Philippines. There can be no compromises here, this garbage shipment
must be sent back to Canada, its country of origin. The Philippine
government must do everything it can to prevent these incidents from happening
ever again in the future, and it can start doing that by ratifying
the Basel Ban Amendment.” Hernandez added.

The groups decry that
allowing the toxic waste shipment to be disposed of in Philippine territory
will set a wrong precedent for other countries to follow suit. They fear that
the country is being primed to be the world’s toxic waste dumping site in the
guise of “green jobs” for recycling.

“Illegal toxic waste trade is an
international crime. It is no different from dealing in illegal drugs,
endangered species, and other forms of trade that the international community
has deemed noxious,”

explained Atty. Richard Gutierrez, executive director of
BAN Toxics.

“Why our government is even contemplating on accepting these
illegal wastes when international law is behind us is exasperating.”
Gutierrez added.

The importation violates a number of local laws such
as the DENR Administrative Order 28 (Interim Guidelines for the Importation
of Recyclable Materials Containing Hazardous Substances) and Republic
Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

It also
violates the Basel Convention, which prohibits illegal toxic waste trade and
mandates such trade to be considered a criminal act.  The Convention also
requires the exporting country, in this case Canada, to return the illegally
seized shipment and to pay the costs for the return.

“Pick up your
garbage Canada, and show us the decency that we so rightfully deserve as a
nation. My motherland is not a garbage bin of Canada. ” Paquiz

Joining Ang Nars, BAN Toxics, Greenpeace, and Ecowaste Coalition
are Mother Earth Foundation, Global Alliance for Incinerator
Alternatives, and Green Convergence.