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CANADA WASTE | Taking it back ‘is the only option’ – Legarda

September 9, 2015

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 5:53 p.m.) Senator Loren Legarda agreed with environmentalists Wednesday that the only viable solution to the controversy surrounding imported Canadian waste is for the North American country to take it back.

“Taking back their waste is the only option,” Legarda told a hearing of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources on the 103 container vans of Canadian waste that have entered the country since 2013.

Environmental groups trooped to the Senate to attend the hearing and ask the chamber to help efforts to compel Canada to take back the waste, which they say had been misrepresented as recyclable but turned out to be hazardous.

“Canada should act responsibly and comply with the Basel Convention’s requirement that ‘in case of transboundary movement of hazardous waste or other wastes deemed to be illegal traffic as the result of conduct on the part of the exporter or generator, the State of export shall ensure that the waste in question are taken back by the exporter or generator, or, if necessary, by itself into the State of export” as stated in the treaty,” a joint statement the groups, led by the EcoWaste Coalition, submitted to the Senate said.

Other groups that joined the protest and attended the public hearing on five resolutions filed by Senators Nancy Binay, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Miriam Defensor Santiago were Piglas Kababaihan, Public Services Independent Labor Confederation, Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa and Ang NARS party-list.

Legarda agreed, saying, “Canada is a signatory to the Basel Convention. As part of their commitment to the Convention, they should take back their waste. The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should maintain their firm stand on the return of the waste, and Canada, either the government or the private firm, should fund it.”

Legarda noted that the 1992 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which Canada and the Philippines ratified in the years 1992 and 1993, respectively, includes household waste as among the strictly controlled materials provided for under Annex II of the Convention and calls for prior notification and consent of the receiving country before being exported by a sending country.

She noted a similar situation when a private Japanese firm declared that 122 containers it sent to the Philippines contained recyclable paper that was actually medical and household wastes.

“In 1999, the Japanese government funded the return of the 122 containers containing medical and household waste exported to the Philippines by a private firm. If Japan was able to do it, I am certain that Canada can also do it and would have the resources to do so,” Legarda stressed.

She added that entry and eventual dumping of waste from Canada to the country is also against our national laws, including Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“We are calling for the effective implementation of our own laws and we cannot let other countries violate them. The Philippines is not the trash bin of the world. If the option to bring back the waste to Canada is difficult, sorry, but that is the only acceptable option,” she said Legarda.

Chiz chides DFA

Senator Francis Escudero, who chairs the environment committee, chided the DFA for not taking a stronger stance when it asked Canada to take back the waste and said the government should exhaust all measures to ensure the trash is returned.

“Dapat ibalik ang basura sa pinanggalingan nito. Hindi tapunan ng basura ang Pilipinas (The trash should be returned where it came from. The Philippines is not a waste dump),” he said, echoing the call of the environmental groups.

“Hindi ba nakakabaliktad ng sikmura na tayo na ang pinadalhan ng basura, tayo pa ang sumasakit ang ulo at tayo pa ngayon ang nagbabayad o gumagastos para ma-dispose ito (Isn’t it revolting that trash is sent to us and then we have to spend to dispose of it)?” he asked.

He noted that when the controversy over the waste went public, the DFA sent a diplomatic note to Canada that sought its help for the “expeditious return of containers to the port of origin at no cost to the government.”

“Canada was treated with kid gloves. Dapat mas matindi at mas mabigat ang posisyon natin laban dito. Hindi nung sinabi ng Canada na wala kaming batas na puwedeng gamitin para utusan ang aming local exporter na ibalik ang mga ‘yan, hindi na rin natin ipinilit (We should have had a stronger position on this. We should have pressed the issue when Canada said they have no law to compel the exporter to take back the waste),” Escudero said.

In June, anger over the waste intensified after it was learned that 26 container vans had been dumped at a sanitary landfill in Tarlac.

However, the DENR told the Senate hearing the waste is “neither toxic nor hazardous.”

“This is a matter of national shame and pride. A shame on Canada for dumping their garbage on someone else’s backyard, our pride as a nation of peoples, not of garbage cans. We must stand up and clean our backyard of this Canadian waste,” Escudero said.

Source: InterAksyon