Filipinos to Trudeau: Take out the trash
2,500 tons of trash in Manila belongs to Canadians
Justin Trudeau’s visit to the Philippines brought him within a short walk of a Canadian controversy that has lingered in the Port of Manila for years: about 100 stranded containers crammed with thousands of tons of rotting trash from Canada.
The case of the rancid Canadian garbage, festering in Manila for about four years, is well known in the Philippines — it’s made headlines and led to protests by environmental and public-health activists.
They’ve been calling on Canada to repatriate the waste, which is said to include old wires, CDs, used plastic cups and soiled adult diapers. Estimates in local news reports say there could be as much as 2,500 tons of trash in 103 shipping containers.
The shipments were allowed into the country because they were allegedly disguised as recyclable plastics. Upon inspection, however, customs officers discovered they were stuffed with reeking household trash — or worthless landfill junk.
During a visit to Manila two years ago, Trudeau was asked by a local reporter about the Canadian garbage. He replied at the time that a “Canadian solution” was in the works and vowed to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.
“It’s two years already and the waste still remains here,” said Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of Manila’s EcoWaste Coalition, one of many groups that have been fighting for the removal of the rubbish. Coincidentally, she said a photo-op Sunday brought the prime minister within about 100 metres of the site.
Trudeau, in Manila for a summit of southeast Asian countries, made local media headlines with his visit to a nearby Jollibee fastfood joint. He used the visit as a way to highlight the connection between the Philippines and Canada, where the company opened a store last year in Winnipeg to cater to the city’s large Filipino population. He also ordered a meal — to go.
“It is OK for us that the prime minister dropped by a 100-percent Filipino restaurant and take out fries or a burger for himself,” Lucero said. “But there is (something) much more important to take out and that is the Canada waste.”
In 2014, the Philippine government recommended the containers be returned to Canada under the provisions of the Basel Convention, which prohibits developed countries from shipping waste to developing nations.
Canada stands ready to work with local authorities to transport the trash back to Canada, if necessary, an anonymous official said.