PH, Canada eye bilateral solution to smuggled waste – DFA
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday took a stronger position on the presence of Canadian wastes in the Philippines, categorically saying it was a violation of domestic laws and the Basel Convention.
But filing a case against Canada IS not among the Philippines’ options since it considers “bilateral solution” as its primary approach in resolving the waste problem.
“It is a violation of the Basel Convention. We conveyed this violation to Canada through a note to the foreign minister,” Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario said during the Senate budget deliberations for the DFA.
Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance presiding over the hearing, asked Del Rosario to clarify the DFA’s position on the issue of the 50 containers filled with rubbish shipped from Canada to the Philippines back in 2013. The wastes have been left to rot in the ports of Manila and Subic.
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is a 1992 international treaty signed by 182 states, including the governments of the Philippines and Canada. The treaty prevents the transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries.
“I spoke to him (Canada’s foreign minister) several times in various meetings that we’ve had abroad,” Del Rosario said.
He noted that the Philippines has engaged Canada in bilateral consultations to resolve the waste problem.
The foreign affairs chief likewise disclosed that the DFA earlier sought the advice of the Basel secretariat headquartered in Switzerland.
“(We have) been advised to seek a resolution in a bilateral level,” Del Rosario said.
In a meeting on October 1, the inter-agency task force composed of representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) has affirmed the earlier decision to engage Canada in bilateral talks and monitor the ongoing cases.
The Department of Justice has filed two cases against Valenzuela City-based Chronic Plastics, the counterpart of the exporter Chronic Inc. based in Canadian province Ontario for violating the Republic Act 6969 or the Act to Control Toxic Substances and Hazardous Nuclear Wastes and the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP)
Del Rosario reiterated the DENR’s findings that the wastes from Canada were neither hazardous nor toxic.
The government’s inter-agency task force was earlier criticized for allowing the Canadian rubbish to be dumped at a sanitary landfill in Tarlac, which was stopped due to protests from local officials and residents.
Legarda at the hearing noted that she was elated at the DFA’s clarification. “That makes it very clear that Canada should take back its wastes,” the senator said.
The vans containing household garbage including used diapers and kitchen waste have been stinking and posing health hazards in Subic and Manila ports since June 2013.