Groups Ask DENR to Junk “Garbage Diplomacy,” Pursue Legal Action to Compel Canada to Re-Import Its Trash

Amid a hail
of brickbats and stones against the government’s handling of Canadian garbage
dumping on our shores, environmental health and justice groups pressed the
Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR) to take legal action to oblige
Canada to get back their reeking trash. 
The EcoWaste Coalition and the Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy
Environment and Sustainable Economy urged the DENR to ditch what has been ridiculed
as “garbage diplomacy” after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)at a news
briefing yesterday said the DFA would support a legal action against Canada if
the DENR decides to do so.
DFA spokesperson Charles Jose confirmed that the DFA sent a note verbale in
2014 to the Canadian Embassy conveying that the shipment of wastes from Canada
as stated by the DENR constituted a violation of the Basel Convention on the
Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
“As DFA is clearly passing the buck and attempting to pin the blame on DENR,
that leaves the latter the duty to explain to the nation why it had to decide
to act inimical to the interest of the nation,” said Rene Pineda,
Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“DENR should refrain from arguing from the perspective of diplomacy as it is
not its mandate and function, and DFA has a contrary position.  As the lead agency for environmental
protection, we ask the DENR to stop mouthing a diplomatic argument and insist
that our country is not Canada’s dumpsite,” he pointed out.
“We would prefer fighting and even losing for our right as a sovereign nation
than suffer the dire consequences of potential hazards to health and life and
be the laughing stock of the world for easily giving up our right,” he
For her part, Dr. Angelina Galang, President of Green Convergence, said: “The ball
is now in the DENR.  We urge Environment Secretary
Ramon Paje to map out a robust legal strategy to get rid of the illegal garbage
imports from Canada that President Benigno Aquino III can announce at his State
of the Nation Address on Monday.” 
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations, had earlier proposed that the government should consider the Basel
Convention in negotiating with the Canadian authorities over the illegal
garbage imports, saying that “the arduousness of complaint or arbitration
mechanisms before an international tribunal should not hinder the government
from asserting that the export of wastes from Canada violates the Basel
To stop the recurrence of garbage dumping from overseas, the EcoWaste
Coalition, Green Convergence and other environmental groups reiterated the need
for the Philippine government to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which seeks to
prohibit exports of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for
final disposal, reuse, recycling and recovery.