MANILA, Philippines – An environmental group on Saturday, June 4, called on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to make sure the controversial Canadian garbage is returned to its origin.
The group BAN Toxicx also asked Duterte to ratify the Basel Amendment and Minamata Convention (BA-MC) during his first few months in office.
“This is a golden opportunity for President-elect Duterte to prove his mettle when it comes to the environment,” said Shalimar Vitan, BAN Toxics’ chief operating officer.
She added: “As president, it is within his power to finally resolve the Canada waste crisis. He can also prevent future waste dumping by any country by ensuring the ratification of the Basel Amendment.”
In mid-2013, some 55 containers full of household rubbish from Canada were seized at Manila’s port on grounds that the waste was being passed off as plastic scrap material for recycling. The two-year standoff between the two governments ended in July 2015, when the garbage was sent to a local landfill.
BAN Toxics was one of the groups that asked international bodies to intervene in the issue.
Duterte has staunchly opposed the dumping of Canadian trash here. In 2015, he urged the Aquino administration to file a diplomatic protest against the Canadian government for its 1,300-ton shipments of exported trash, calling the act a “derogation of our national dignity.”
World Environment Day
The call by BAN Toxics comes a day before World Environment Day on Sunday, June 5.
“A formal protest filed with the Basel Convention Secretariat will compel Canada to repatriate their waste,” the group said.
The Basel Amendment is an amendment to the Basel Convention, which the Philippines ratified in 1993. The Convention prohibits the export of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries. The Amendment, which the Philippines has not yet ratified, addresses a loophole in the Convention by additionally prohibiting the movement of all wastes, even those meant for recycling.
Aside from this, the group also called on Duterte to ratify the Minamata Convention, which aims to protect human health and the environment from mercury pollution.
Mercury, even in low doses, is extremely harmful to human health. Once released, it persists in the environment and gets absorbed by organisms.
“Mercury pollution is widespread in the Philippines – the biggest uses are in small-scale gold mining and for dentistry, as dental fillings,” Vitan said.
The Philippines has signed Minamata, but has yet to ratify it. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is currently revising regulations on mercury use to enforce stricter measures.
“We urge the incoming administration to speed up the approval of the new mercury regulations with a mercury phase out timeline of 2020,” Vitan said.
She added: “President Duterte should also champion the immediate ratification of this treaty, not just to support global efforts to eliminate mercury use, but also to prevent further mercury pollution and poisoning in the country.” – Rappler.com