As the illegal Canadian toxic wastes continue to rot in the Port of Manila for over 600 days now, running priest Father Robert Reyes joined the call for Canada to immediately re-export the illegal shipment, as he and environmental advocates led by BAN Toxics, Ecowaste Coalition and Greenpeace staged a “BasuRUN” in Makati City.
Reyes, a known environmental and human rights activist, joined the groups on Tuesday as they ran along the main streets of Makati City business district leading to RCBC Plaza, where the Canadian Embassy is located, to decry the illegal and ‘overstaying’ toxic shipment and to urge Canada to take responsibility for their wastes.
“These toxic wastes are the worst form of expressing friendship between our two countries,” Reyes said. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is an embarrassment to the civic-minded and environmentally conscious Canadians. We know this is not the real Canada. We urge Prime Minister Harper to take immediate action. Take back your illegal waste shipment now!”
On February 2014, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized 50 container vans containing various waste materials and hazardous wastes imported from Canada, with the consignee Chronic Plastics, Inc. declaring the shipment as ‘assorted scrap plastic materials for recycling’.
Canada’s stance, however, pins the blame on the private consignee and maintains that it does not have any legal capacity to compel the Canada-based exporter Chronic Incorporated, to re-export their noxious shipment.
“It’s been more than a year and yet we are battling the same problem. The Canadian government won’t listen but they should, and we will not stop until they take back the illegal shipment that they dumped in our country,” said Atty. Richard Gutierrez, Executive Director of BAN Toxics.
Gutierrez said that the shipment— containing a mixture of household and toxic wastes—should be re-exported in accordance with the Basel Convention, an international treaty that regulates toxic waste shipments. The Basel Convention prohibits illegal toxic waste trade and requires the exporting country, in this case Canada, to take back the illegally seized shipment and to pay the costs for the return. Both Canada and the Philippines are party to the Basel Convention.
The importation violates a number of local laws such as the DENR Administrative Order 28 (Interim Guidelines for the Importation of Recyclable Materials Containing Hazardous Substances) and Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
According to the groups’ calculations, the government is spending at least P144,000 a day for the loss of income for storage space and the additional expenses for demurrage, which, to date, costs around PHP 87 million.
In an effort to gain public attention on the issue, the coalition filed an online petition on change.org[i] that drew more than 25,000 signers, more than half of which are Canadians. The group is encouraging more people to sign the online petition to appeal and urge the Canadian embassy in the Philippines to facilitate the pick-up and return of the garbage back to Canadian soil.
For more information:
Media and Communications Manager, BAN Toxics
Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace Philippines