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Senators call on gov’t to send Canada’s trash back to sender

September 10, 2015

Senators on Wednesday urged the government to reverse its decision allowing the disposal of mixed waste from Canada in Tarlac.

“Toxic or not, this is covered by the Basel Convention. Change your recommendation, alam n’yo kung ano ang nasa puso n’yo. Hanggang ngayon mahiwaga pa rin sa amin kung bakit nagbago ang desisyon nyong ibalik ito sa Canada,” Senator Loren Legarda said during the hearing on the Canada waste.

“Let’s exhaust all means so Canada will take it back,” she added.

The Basel Convention, in which both Canada and the Philippines are signatories, states that in the case of an illegal movement of hazardous or other waste, the State of export shall ensure that the waste in question are:

(a) taken back by the exporter or the generator or, if necessary, by itself into the State of export, or, if impracticable,

(b) are otherwise disposed of in accordance with the provisions of this Convention, within 30 days from the time the State of export has been informed about the illegal traffic or such other period of time as States concerned may agree. To this end the Parties concerned shall not oppose, hinder or prevent the return of those wastes to the State of export.

In an interview after the hearing, Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the environment and natural resources committee, said his position was to return the waste to Canada.

“Ang posisyon namin dapat ibalik ang basura sa pinanggalingan ng basura, hindi tapunan ng basura ang Pilipinas at dapat wag nating tanggapin ito,” Escudero said.

He added that the senators decided to invite the members of the inter-agency committee which decided to allow the waste to be disposed of in the country.

“Pinagpatawag namin ang inter-agency committee na nagpasya, nagdesisyon na pahintulutan at payagan na dito na i-dump , itapon at idispose ang basurang hindi naman atin para kumbinsihin sila na gawin ang tama,” Escudero said.

He believed the Philippines can impose the provision of the Basel Convention to Canada.

“May problema na nga tayo sa basurang galing mismo sa atin, tatanggapin pa ba natin ang basura galing sa ibang bansa. Pwede nating i-impose ang provision ng treaty na iyon para ipatupad ng Canada,” Escudero said.

The earlier position of Department of Environment and Natural Resources was to force Canada to re-import the waste but an inter-agency committee composed of the DENR, Departments of Foreign Affairs, and Justice and Bureau of Customs, in a decision in August 2014, agreed to let the disposal of the waste in the country.

“Unilaterally, sa DENR ang stand namin ay ibalik sa Canada pero hindi maaari na kami lang ang magde-decide because the issue has many aspects. That has to be considered especially nung nagkaroon ng inter-agency committee tulad ng diplomatic relations sa Canada, health issues,” Assistant Secretary Juan Miguel Cuna, director of the Environmental Management Bureau.

Legarda believed the only consideration the inter-agency committee took was the diplomatic relations between Canada and the Philippines.

“The inter-agency reversed its decision because the first option is hard to do kaya ilibing na lang dito dahil hindi natin kaya sa diplomasya,” the Legarda said.

“Bakit nagbago ang desisyon ninyo at ni-reverse. Tayo ba ay nagpapaapi at sige para lang maayos ang bilateral relations ay tatanggapin ang pribadong basura ng bansang yun,” she added.

The Senate committee will also invite to the next hearing Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina who talked with Rufo Colayco, president and general manager of Metro Clark Waste Management Corporation, to accept the waste from Canada into their facility.

Metro Clark agreed and disposed if the waste in their facility in Tarlac.

The waste from Canada arrived in the country in June 2013.

The DFA said Canada cannot take it back as it has no means to run after the importer and it was a purely “private commercial transaction between Ontario-based Chronic, Inc. and its Philippine counterpart Chronic Plastics.

Sought for comment, an official of Metro Clark said the firm only processed tons of trash from Canada because of the government’s request.

“We are not a party to the importation of this waste. We just came into the picture when BOC decided to use Metro Clark,” said Metro Clark general manager Darwin Chan.

Chan added that the trash the company processed were recyclable materials such as plastic, paper, and cardboard.

“Wala naman pong hazardous materials,” he said.

Source: GMA News