MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, groups from various sectors hit Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for failing to resolve the "lingering" garbage-dumping row that unraveled in the Philippines.
In a statement on Saturday, November 11, environmental justice advocates expressed "utter dismay" over the failure "to remove the tons of residual trash illegally sent to the Philippines from Canada under the guise of recycling."
Almost two years since Trudeau talked about a "Canadian solution," the garbage-filled container vans "are still languishing in the Port of Manila," said former representative Leah Paquiz of Ang Nars party list.
"The overstaying containers of contraband garbage shipments in our port provide a stinking evidence that the touted 'Canadian solution' is nothing but a hollow word," added activist priest Father Robert Reyes.
"We insist that Canada should take their garbage back now," said Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition. "Canada is rich and unquestionably capable of managing its rubbish in a proper manner that will not jeopardize public health and the environment."
"We could not help but censure PM Trudeau for his lethargic response to resolve the garbage dumping scandal," said Joanna Bernice Coronacion, deputy secretary general of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa.
"PM Trudeau, clean as you go. Take your garbage with you!" said Annie Geron, president of the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK).
The groups are among the intervenors in a case filed against importer and Chronic Plastics owner Adelfa Eduardo and customs broker Sherjun Saldon for violation of Republic Act 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 in relation to the trash-dumping row.
On Thursday, another group BAN Toxics likewise urged President Rodrigo Duterte to "make good on his campaign promise to hold Canada and Trudeau accountable for their trash."
A total of 103 container vans from Canada arrived in batches at the Port of Manila from 2013 to 2014. Initially declared to contain only "plastic scraps," it was later found to have non-recyclable plastics, household waste, and even used adult diapers.
Trudeau in 2015, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Manila, spoke of a "Canadian solution" to fix the loopholes used by private companies to ship garbage out of Canada.
However, he "skirted the issue of taking back the illegal trash shipments as demanded by various quarters," said the advocates. (READ: Canada PM Trudeau on trash: We're working on laws for future)
Paquiz said they further demand that both Canada and the Philippines "ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits the transboundary movement of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries even for recycling." – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com