MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippines may have taken in, not 50, but almost 100 container vans of garbage from Canada.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has come upon 48 more container vans at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) which BOC documents show came from a company based in Ontario, Canada.
The company, Live Green Enterprise, appears to have sent to Manila waste plastic materials in 4 batches from December 2013 to January 2014, according to BOC documents.
A BOC official, however, said the 45-foot container vans have not yet been inspected though they have been in the container yard for more than a year.
Speaking to media on condition of anonymity, he said, “The shipment is for abandonment since it has been there for a long time.”
A May 4 letter signed by MICP’s Auction and Cargo Disposal Division chief Gerardo Macatangay, recommends the “issuance of decree of abandonment” on the 48 container vans.
The discovery of the 48 container vans comes after President Benigno Aquino III said government authorities were awaiting a court approval to dispose or “treat” the original 50 container vans of garbage on Philippine soil.
The 50 container vans were also sent to the Philippines by an Ontario-based company, Chronic Incorporated. They arrived at the Manila port in batches starting June 2013. The opening of 18 container vans revealed non-recyclable plastics, household waste, and used adult diapers.
Disregard for international laws
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes says Canada should have taken back the garbage 30 days after being notified of its presence in the Philippines.
The convention also states that the obligation for such waste to be managed in an environmentally sound manner “may not under any circumstances be transferred to the States of import or transit.”
Both Canada and the Philipppines have ratified the convention.
Green group EcoWaste Coalition called the stranding of the 48 container vans in Manila “outrageous and unacceptable.”
“We expect nothing less than an open and transparent investigation on this matter, the prosecution of the offenders and the immediate return of the botched garbage consignments to Canada,” said the group’s coordinator Aileen Lucero.
US-based group Basel Action Network (BAN), which aims to act as a watchdog for the Basel Convention, vowed to pursue action against Canada.
“BAN will be filing a complaint with the [Basel Convention] Secretariat and will continue to raise this until Canada admits its mistake and prosecutes this case in accordance with the law,” said BAN Director Jim Puckett.
Any action by the Philippine government to dispose of the waste in Philippine soil will be “condemned as aiding and abetting non-compliance,” he added.
The BOC has filed a case against the owner of Chronic Plastics, the Philippines-based importer of the 50 container vans, for allegedly violating the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP) and the Toxic Substance and Hazardous Wastes and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 (Republic Act 6969).
The Canadian government, for its part, says it has no domestic laws to compel the Canada-based exporter to return the garbage to Canadian shores.
Leading up to the state visit of Aquino to Canada, netizens, including Canadians, called on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take back the garbage. – With reports from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com