Manila stance vs Canadian garbage draws support from civil society

By on May 21, 2015


A container van full of garbage shipped from Canada (Photo courtesy of Change.org)
A container van full of garbage shipped from Canada (Photo courtesy of Change.org)

QUEZON CITY — Following Manila City Council’s call for the immediate removal of hazardous garbage from Canada sitting in Manila’s port, environmental justice groups urged the Government of Canada to act in good faith and re-import the controversial garbage shipment at once.

Last May 14, the City Council, led by Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, adopted the resolution principally authored by Councilor DJ Bagatsing and co-authored by Councilor Numero Lim and 29 other councilors, urging the Canadian government as well as the interagency task force dealing with the issue to remove the reeking garbage sitting in Manila’s port that “pose dangerous health and ecological risks” to the nation’s capital.

Through a follow-up statement after the resolution was adopted, Bagatsing and Lim asserted that: “The decent response ought to be for Canada to take back its illegally shipped hazardous waste, akin to the honorable action taken by Japan back in 1999, and it is only right that this precedent be followed and pursued, in keeping with the essence of strong bilateral ties and friendly relations.”

“It is truly saddening to see a powerful first world elite country have its own way unfairly over a vulnerable developing nation who, in this case, will be the one left holding the trashbag,” the two councilors added.

Manila’s objection to the continued stay of Canada’s garbage in the city drew support from the EcoWaste Coalition and other allied groups from the environmental and labor movements, stressing that “the Philippines is not a dumpsite.”V“We sympathize with the government and people of Manila who have to bear the brunt of this despicable garbage dumping from overseas,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The removal of the reeking garbage from Philippine soil is of utmost importance for the national interest and Canada must stop ignoring its responsibility to take back their unwanted rubbish,” she said.

“It’s not enough for the garbage-filled container vans to be taken from one site to another and burden the unfortunate local government unit (LGU) with a problem not of its making,” she emphasized.

“LGUs hosting potential facilities where the Canadian garbage will be sent for burial or incineration should categorically state their refusal to accept the imported trash,” Lucero said.

“We cannot allow Canada to treat our communities as cheap disposal sites for their discards,” she emphasize.

Echoing the statement made by Bishop Broderick Pabillo on the Canadian garbage issue, Lucero reminded the Canadian and Filipino authorities that “it will be unjust for a community in Manila, Bulacan, Tarlac or elsewhere to become a toxic sacrificial site for Canada’s hazardous garbage.”

The outspoken bishop, who chairs the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, had earlier said that “no community deserves to be a dumping ground for wastes and toxics.