ZAMBALES, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The 69 containers of trash from Canada dumped in Manila 6 years ago were finally shipped out of the country early morning of Friday, May 31 – just a few hours shy of the deadline set by the Philippine government.
"Baaaaaaaaa bye, as we say it," Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin wrote on Twitter, along with images of the vessel leaving.
Canada's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna welcomed the news of the trash being returned, telling reporters on Thursday: "We committed with the Philippines and we're working closely with them."
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) deputy administrator for port operations Rani Cruz said the containers were all loaded on the MV Bavaria docked at Subic Bay by 3:19 am on Friday.
"Canadian embassy officials, officials from the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority observed the loading," Cruz said.
The MV Bavaria arrived at the Subic Freeport New Container Port Terminal-1 Thursday afternoon, May 30, and had to unload the containers it had brought in before the containers packed with garbage could be loaded at around 9 pm. The process lasted for more than 6 hours. (READ: Canada starts removing garbage from Subic port)
The Philippine government had earlier set a May 15 deadline on the repatriation of Canada's garbage, but Canada missed this due to delays in securing a broker. This prompted the Philippines to recall its ambassador and consuls to Canada as part of its "diminished diplomatic relations" with that country until the garbage problem was resolved.
Canada later said it could accomplish this by the end of June, but the Philippines insisted on a new May 30 deadline.
Two of the 69 container vans of trash came from the Manila International Terminal Container, while the 67 others were at the Subic Bay International Terminal Corporation (SBITC).
Environmental groups had long called for the removal of the trash composed of mixed wastes, including nonrecyclable plastic, waste paper, household waste, electronic wastes, and used adult diapers.
These materials are classified as hazardous according to Republic Act No. 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste and Control Act of 1990. Moreover, the importation of the shipment violates the Basel Convention, as the contents of the cargo vans were misdeclared as "recyclable." – With reports from Randy Datu, Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com