Press Release
November 20, 2015


His word is good, but we still have trash, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero remarked as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left Manila after the conclusion of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings without providing a clear solution to the problem of Canadian garbage on Philippine soil.

Escudero, who has asked the Philippine government to compel Canada to take back the thousands of tons of trash shipped by a Canadian firm to Manila, said the prime minister remained vague on whether his government would take the trash back.

At a press conference, Trudeau said he has been "made aware of this situation and told that there's a Canadian solution being developed." At the same time, he said, "this is a problem that needs fixing within our own legislation."

"I appreciate his comment and thank him for his effort. However, the fact remains that the trash is here and we are left to fend for ourselves and spend our own money to dispose of it despite the clear treaty obligation of Canada to get it back at their expense," said Escudero, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

Both the Philippines and Canada have ratified the Basel Convention, which deems illegal the transboundary movement of waste and obliges the country of origin to take back its waste in an environmentally sound manner, without transferring the cost of managing such waste to the country of import or transit.

The shipment of garbage here also violates the Philippines' Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990.

Trudeau admitted that "there were loopholes that were skirted" in the shipment of the trash to Manila. He said these must be closed so that the Canadian government can demand action from erring companies in the future and maintain "a good relationship with our neighbors."

At a recent Senate hearing presided by Escudero, it was found that Chronic Inc., a private company in Ontario, has shipped a total of 103 container vans of garbage mislabeled as "recyclable plastic materials" to Manila since 2013.

The Department of Health has already said that the 18 container vans that were inspected contained mixed waste such as adult diapers, waste paper and other household trash, and must be disinfected immediately. Another 26 container vans of trash had been dumped into a landfill in Tarlac.

"If the Philippine government has given up on compelling Canada to take back its trash, then it should start addressing the problem now. What is the Philippine government's course of action in the face of the environmental and health hazards posed by this Canadian garbage that is rotting on the Bureau of Customs (BOC) premises?" Escudero asked.

As of last year, the storage of the container vans of trash alone has cost the Philippine government around P66 million, according to media reports. Meanwhile, the cost of disinfecting it has been pegged at P18,000 per container van, on top of the cost of moving the trash to a treatment site, which is P8,000 per container van.

All in all, disinfection would cost the Philippine government around P2 million for 77 container vans that are still in Manila.

"We cannot just sit around while Canada strives to find a legislative solution to the problem. The trash is here; we are here, and obviously, we are expected to deal with it," Escudero said.

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