Group tells Duterte: Return trash to Canada
DAVAO CITY—Environment watchdog Ban Toxics has called on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to ensure the immediate return of Canada’s waste to that country and the ratification of two international treaties on hazardous materials—Basel Amendment and Minamata Convention.
“This is a golden opportunity for President-elect Duterte to prove his mettle when it comes to the environment,” said Shalimar Vitan, Ban Toxics chief operating officer.
“As President, it is within his power to finally resolve the Canada waste crisis,” said Vitan.
“He can also prevent future waste dumping by any country by ensuring the ratification of the Basel Amendment,” he said.
Expressing strong outrage over the dumping of Canada’s waste in Manila last year, Duterte urged the Aquino administration to file a diplomatic protest against the Canadian government for a 1,300-ton shipment of trash that landed in Manila from 2013 to 2014.
Duterte had called it a “derogation of our national dignity.”
Ban Toxics said a formal protest filed at the Basel Convention Secretariat would compel Canada to repatriate the waste.
The group also called for the ratification of the Basel Amendment and Minamata Convention, treaties that control waste trade and mercury pollution, saying these treaties should be among the priority environmental agenda of the incoming President.
“The return of Canada’s waste shipments, most of which are still rotting in Manila’s ports, should also be top on his list,” said a statement signed by Lea Guerrero, Ban Toxics program manager for communications and campaigns.
The Basel Amendment is an amendment to the Basel Convention that prohibits the export of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries and which the Philippines ratified in 1993.
The Philippines has not ratified the amendment which addresses a loophole in the convention by additionally prohibiting the movement of all wastes, even those meant for recycling.
Ban Toxics is also calling on Duterte to push the ratification of the Minamata Convention to protect human health and the environment from mercury pollution.
The environment group pointed out that mercury, even in low doses, is extremely harmful to humans.
Once released, it persists in the environment and gets absorbed by organisms.
Although the Philippines signed the Minamata Convention, it has yet to ratify it. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been revising regulations on mercury use to enforce stricter measures.
“Mercury pollution is widespread in the Philippines,” said Vitan. Mercury is widely used in small scale gold mining and dentistry, he said. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao
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