Omission of Garbage Issue in Aquino-Trudeau Bilateral Talk Dismays Environmental and Labor Leaders

of Garbage Issue in Aquino-Trudeau Bilateral Meeting Dismays Environmental and
Labor Leaders

The conspicuous
exclusion of the Canadian garbage dumping issue in yesterday’s bilateral talk between
President Benigno S. Aquino III and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the
sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit drew a chorus
of disapproval and protest from environmental and labor leaders.
“What a total letdown!  Aquino and
Trudeau both missed the chance to exercise real leadership and do the right
thing.  They could have demonstrated to
the world what bilateral trade should not look like.  Ignoring and sweeping the Canadian garbage
scandal under the carpet will not earn you the respect of your people and other
nations,” said environmentalist Von Hernandez, 2003 Goldman Environmental Prize
winner, 2007 Time Hero of the Environment, previous Executive Director of
Greenpeace Southeast Asia and former President of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“It’s a shame that Mr. Trudeau and new members of his government chose not to
take responsibility over the Canadian garbage that has been soiling good
relations between Canadians and Filipinos for some time now.  By not acting toward his government taking back
the stinking trash from the Philippine soil for good, the Filipino people will
now begin to doubt Mr. Trudeau’s sincerity and capacity to lead the Canadian
people to his campaign promise of an environment-caring shared prosperity,”
said Alan Tanjusay, Spokesperson of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines
“This is unconscionable!  It sends the
message to our trading partners that our people’s welfare is for sale,” said
Josua Mata, Secretary-General, Sentro ng mgaNagkakaisa at
ProgresibongManggagawa (SENTRO).
Rene Pineda, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said: “Much to our
regret, we are forced to seek redress and judicially compel the Philippine
government to do its mandated duty under our national laws and the Basel
Convention and require Canada to take back its waste.” 
Had Trudeau made the right move to resolve the issue, the EcoWaste Coalition, a
watchdog group for chemical safety and zero waste, would have reacted
differently and would have released the following statement: 
“He did not fail us!  Hats off to PM
Trudeau for heeding our plea for environmental justice that his unbending
predecessor Stephen Harper chose to ignore. 
We’re sure that Filipinos will remember him not only for his towering
height and good looks, but for this splendid ‘gift of justice’ to fix a long
drawn-out dumping scandal that has pricked the national consciousness, dignity
and pride.”
The group would have also said: “We hope that this controversy will conclude
with both Canada and the Philippines taking firm action to prevent the
recurrence of such illegal waste trade, including the ratification of the Basel
Ban Amendment that prohibits hazardous waste exports from developed to
developing countries for recycling and final disposal.”
From June 2013 to January 2014, a total of 103 container vans of mixed garbage from
Canada, misdeclared as “plastic scraps” for recycling, entered the country in 10
batches and subsequently intercepted by customs authorities.  
After sitting in the ports, 26 containers of these trash consignments were illegally
disposed of at the Metro Clark Landfill in Tarlac between June 26 to July 8,
2015, drawing the ire of local officials and residents.
The Tarlac provincial board then stopped the illegal dumping, prompting other
local government units such as the province of Bulacan and  Navotas and Quezon Cities, to follow suit and
prohibit foreign waste disposal in local landfills to protect the public health
and the environment.