Press Release
November 15, 2015


How about some trash talk on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next week?

Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero urged Philippine officials to bring up with Canadian leaders attending the APEC meetings the return of tons of garbage that were exported to the Philippines by a Canadian company, and which now sit rotting in the Port of Manila.

Escudero, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, backed a petition by environmentalists, academicians, lawmakers and other concerned Filipinos asking Canada to take back the trash that it has been shipping to the Philippines since 2013.

"While we aim to be gracious hosts, the Philippines must also be able to use the summit as a venue to discuss very important matters affecting our constituents. The garbage that is rotting in Manila and leaking what could possibly be toxic juices is a huge environmental problem and a public health hazard," Escudero said.

At a recent Senate hearing, it was found that a total of 103 container vans of garbage mislabeled as "recyclable plastic materials" had been shipped to Manila by Chronic Incorporated, a private company in Ontario, since 2013. The shipment was consigned to Chronic Plastics, a Philippine company.

Upon inspection, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) discovered that the shipment contained mixed waste such as bottles, adult diapers, waste paper, kitchen refuse and other household trash.

Environmentalists say the transboundary movement of such garbage violates Republic Act 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990. The shipment is also illegal, as per the Basel Convention, to which both the Philippines and Canada are signatories.

The Department of Health said the 18 container vans that were opened for inspection at the BOC premises needed to be disinfected as soon as possible.

"Who will pay for this disinfection? The Philippine government has no resources to keep or treat 103 container vans of trash while we await a more decisive action on the matter," Escudero said.

"We can hardly dispose of our own garbage properly, and now we have this mountain of garbage to deal with. We have to keep trying to get this out of our backyard," he said.

Escudero expressed hope that newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would be more open to resolving the garbage issue than his predecessor, who ignored a note from the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that sought assistance in the "expeditious return of containers to the port of origin at no cost to the government."

Trudeau has confirmed attendance to the APEC summit and is set to have bilateral talks with some countries, although it has not yet been confirmed if this included the Philippines.

Trudeau, whose father also served as prime minister of Canada, is known to be keen on environment-related advocacies, having opposed a proposed zinc mining operations in a United Nations World Heritage site.

The Philippines has formed an inter-agency committee composed of the DFA, DENR and BOC to study and address the issue of the waste from Canada. It was directed to provide a conclusive sampling of the waste to determine whether it is toxic or not.

Escudero said the DENR, DFA and BOC should present a more comprehensive report so that the government can strengthen its stance on the toxic issue.

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