Santiago wants mountains of garbage returned to Canada

By on May 17, 2015


Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago (Facebook photo)
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago (Facebook photo)

MANIA – Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has filed a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the government should cite an international agreement to force Canada to take back mountains of garbage illegally exported into Philippine soil.

In Senate Resolution No. 1341, Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said that under the Basel Convention, Canada is responsible for some 50 container vans of waste now sitting in Philippine ports.

“This issue goes beyond waste management and threatens our sovereignty. I am alarmed that the government seems willing to say that we are an international trash bin out of fear of ruffling Canada’s feathers,” the senator said.

Officials from the executive have earlier ruled out negotiations to return the illegal shipment to Canada. A multi-agency task force has also allegedly agreed to locally process the waste, which includes household waste such as used adult diapers.

“The decision to process the waste in the Philippines upon the request of the Canadian government sets a dangerous precedent for other countries to dump their waste in Philippine soil with impunity,” Santiago said.

She also rejected the view that the waste shipment was purely a commercial transaction between Ontario-based Chronic, Inc. and its Philippine counterpart Chronic Plastics, leaving no obligation for Canada to take the garbage back.

The senator cited the Basel Convention, Article 9 (2), which says that:

In case of a transboundary movement of hazardous wastes or other wastes deemed to be illegal traffic as the result of conduct on the part of the exporter or generator, the State of export shall ensure that the wastes in question are:

(a) taken back by the exporter or the generator or, if necessary, by itself into the State of export, or, if impracticable,

(b) are otherwise disposed of in accordance with the provisions of this Convention, within 30 days from the time the State of export has been informed about the illegal traffic or such other period of time as States concerned may agree. To this end the Parties concerned shall not oppose, hinder or prevent the return of those wastes to the State of export.

Santiago added that the garbage from Canada is covered by this provision in the Basel Convention, noting that Annex 2 of the international agreement explains that “other wastes” include those collected from households.

“The arduousness of complaint or arbitration mechanisms before an international tribunal should not hinder the government from asserting that the export of wastes from Canada violates the Basel Convention,” the senator said.

This is not the first time Santiago filed a resolution related to the Canada garbage export. Last year, she filed Senate Resolution No. 919, urging her colleagues to investigate the issue in aid of legislation.