Duterte, Trudeau talk trash; solution seen

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Nikko Di­zon and Jaymee T. Gamil @Team_In­quirer —WITH A RE­PORT FROM JULIEM. AURELIO INQ

The tons of trash shipped to the Philip­pines some four years ago could be “the­o­ret­i­cally” re­turned to Canada af­ter “le­gal im­ped­i­ments” have been ad­dressed, Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said on Tues­day.

At a press con­fer­ence, Trudeau said he discussed the “garbage is­sue” with Pres­i­dent Duterte on the side­lines of the meet­ing be­tween Canada and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions.

“I am happy to com­mit to you all now that Canada is en­gaged to find­ing a solution to that,” Trudeau said.

He said the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment had to deal with le­gal bar­ri­ers and re­stric­tions that pre­vented it from tak­ing back the 2,500 tons of waste that in­cluded house­hold trash and even soiled adult di­a­pers.

Trudeau noted that the is­sue was rooted in “pri­vate busi­nesses sign­ing con­tracts and hav­ing spe­cific dis­putes.”

Still, he said, Canada “is of course very open to work­ing with the gov­ern­ment of the Philip­pines to re­solve this ques­tion.”

“One of the early bar­ri­ers that I was talk­ing about when I was here two years ago that rep­re­sented a chal­lenge is that Cana­dian le­gal reg­u­la­tions pre­vented us from be­ing able to re­ceive the waste back in Canada,” said Trudeau.

He at­tended the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Con­fer­ence sum­mit in Manila in 2015.

It still would not be so easy to ship back the garbage across the Pa­cific.

“There’s still a num­ber of ques­tions around—whow­ill pay for [ship­ping it back], where the fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity is, where the con­se­quences are as this was at its ori­gin a com­mer­cial trans- ac­tion,” the prime min­is­ter said.

Trudeau, how­ever, said he as­sured Mr. Duterte “that we will con­tinue to work on this and hope­fully re­solve this ques­tion.”

The trash, placed in 103 con­tain­ers, was shipped by an On­tario-based firm to the Port of Manila in 2013 and 2014. Some of the con­tain­ers re­main at the port.

A Valen­zuela City-based com­pany, Chronic Plas­tics Inc., de­clared the ship­ment re­cy­clable plas­tic but Cus­toms ex­am­in­ers dis­cov­ered trash in­stead.

Green groups re­minded Trudeau, who vis­ited a fast-food branch in Manila, that what he should have had as “take out” in­stead were the con­tainer vans of garbage shipped from Canada.

Aileen Lucero, national co­or­di­na­tor of EcoWaste Coali­tion, said Trudeau should have gone as well to the nearby port to see for him­self the trash ship­ments and an­nounce to take the garbage out of the coun­try.

“No coun­try de­serves to be a dump­ing ground for an­other coun­try’s rub­bish,” said Dr. An­gelina Galang, pres­i­dent of the Green Con­ver­gence for Safe Food, Healthy En­vi­ron­ment and Sus­tain­able Econ­omy.

So­nia Men­doza, Mother Earth Foun­da­tion chair, said the ship­ment should be re­called for sim­ple en­vi­ron­men­tal jus­tice.

“I hope Trudeau does not let this be­come Canada’s legacy in the Philip­pines,” said Abi­gail Aguilar, Green­peace South­east Asia cam­paigner.

Fr. Ed­win Gariguez, ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary of Car­i­tas Philip­pines, said Trudeau must make a “de­ci­sive ac­tion” to re­solve the is­sue.

In June 2016, the Re­gional Trial Court of Manila Branch 1 or­dered the return of the ship­ping con­tain­ers, not­ing that the ship­ment treated the Philip­pines as a “trash bin” and “should not be made a prece­dent for other coun­tries to fol­low.”

Justin Trudeau

Ro­drigo Duterte

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