Canada to pay for shipping out 69 container vans of trash – Malacañang

Pia Ranada
(UPDATED) President Rodrigo Duterte gives Canada until May 15 to start transporting the illegally-shipped garbage out of the Philippines

'TAKE IT BACK.' The EcoWaste Coalition holds a protest action near the Canadian embassy against the illegally-shipped garbage. Photo by Lito Borras/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Canadian government has vowed to pay for all the expenses required to ship out 69 container vans of garbage that arrived illegally in the Philippines, said Malacañang.

This development was explained to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, May 6, during a Cabinet meeting.

“The DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources noted that the Canadian government is committed to shoulder all the expenses to ship out all the 69 waste containers,” said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.

The Philippine leader has given Canada until May 15 to start transporting the garbage out of the Philippines. If not, he would make good on his threat to send the trash back to Canada.

“The President gave May 15 as the deadline. If they cannot get that, then we will be shipping them out and throwing them to the shores or beaches of Canada,” said Panelo.

During the Cabinet meeting, Duterte also expressed his resolve to make sure no garbage from other countries again make their way into the Philippines.

“The President is firm that we are not garbage collectors, thus he ordered that the Philippines will no longer accept any waste from any country,” said Panelo.

The 103 container vans of garbage from Canada have long been a thorny issue between Manila and Ottawa, but returned to public consciousness when an outraged Duterte declared he would send back the trash to Canada. (TIMELINE: Canada garbage shipped to the Philippines)

After the President’s threat, the Canadian embassy said it was committed to resolve the issue. Talks between Canadian Ambassador John Holmes and Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr were held.

The container vans, housing some 2,000 tons of trash, began arriving in 2013 in several batches, shipped by a Canadian firm, Chronic Plastics Inc.

They were illegally brought in, declared as plastic scrap materials, until the Bureau of Customs opened one of the containers and discovered what it really contained.

In 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was non-committal on the issue, even saying Canada lacked the legal authority to compel the private importer to ship back the trash. That year, at least 26 container vans of trash were dumped in a private landfill in Tarlac.

In June 2016, a Manila Regional Trial Court judge ordered the return of the garbage to Canada at the expense of the importer. A year later, in November 2017, Trudeau said the legal barriers he had cited before were addressed and Canada can now “theoretically” take back the garbage. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.