In 2013, Canada illegally exported various household wastes and hazardous materials like plastics and diapers to the Philippines. These were misdeclared as scrap plastic materials meant for recycling.
Ang Nars’ Anna Kapunan started an online petition last year to take back the illegal garbage. As of posting, it now has more than 25,000 signatures from around the world. Protest actions had also been done outside the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines.
Fast forward to today, the Canadian government still had not taken back the wastes and materials prompting netizens to call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take action on the issue.
The call went trending on Twitter a day before President Benigno Aquino III’s scheduled state visit to Canada. He is expected to stay in the country for three days, visiting several states with large Filipino communities.
Twitter user Chris Poellein said that Prime Minister Harper only ‘snubbed’ the public outcry.
— Chris Poellein (@CPWorldFocus) May 6, 2015
Jesse Greywolf tweeted to Prime Minister Harper, ‘The Philippines doesn’t want our garbage!’ and demanded him to ‘take trash back.’
— jesse greywolf (@jesseofthenorth) May 5, 2015
Frederick Oliver also reacted on the issue and said that Prime Minister Harper was ‘leaving a stinking legacy.’
— Frederick Oliver (@FredOliver245) May 6, 2015
Several environmental, public health and labor groups also urged President Aquino to raise the issue on the illegal trash and clinch a ‘return to sender’ agreement with Prime Minister Harper.
“We urge President Aquino to seek a just closure for the garbage dumping controversy that has remained unresolved almost two years since the first batch of the mixed trash shipment arrived in Manila in June 2013,” EcoWaste Coalition Coordinator Aileen Lucero said in a statement, stressing that the garbage dumping was a ‘blatant case of environmental justice.’
“As Canada’s sixth-largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, a priority market and a country of focus for its international development efforts, President Aquino should have no trouble getting Prime Minister Harper’s ear,” Lucero added. “This is one agreement that should be on Aquino’s priority list, a tangible indicator by which the success of his trip will be judged.”
The Philippine government, however, stated that it was up to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to advise President Aquino to bring up the issue on his visit agenda.
President Aquino’s visit is expected to ‘provide an opportunity for both leaders to reaffirm close relationship between Canada and the Philippines based on strong people-to-people ties.’
Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said that the Philippine government had already demanded Canada to take back its illegal shipment of garbage but later on dropped its demand ‘for the sake of our diplomatic reason.’
With the government’s decision to drop its demand on the return of the illegal shipment of garbage, environmental, public health and labor groups were then dismayed and asserted that the action was tantamount to ‘an open invitation to garbage smugglers.’
With still no negotiations between the Philippine and Canadian governments, the illegal trash stays rotten in Manila and Subic areas.