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On Canada waste: time for Rody to follow up question with action

12:03 AM August 01, 2016

IT’S GOOD to hear that President Duterte is going after local mayors who have failed to act on the garbage problem in their municipalities.

But will the President go after Canada for dumping its garbage here on Philippine soil?

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Last year, then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte urged the Aquino administration to file a diplomatic protest against Canada, calling the dumping “a derogation of our national dignity.” It is now in his power to resolve the crisis and instruct Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay to formally transmit a protest to the Basel Convention Secretariat, the watchdog on transboundary waste shipments. That transmittal will compel Canada to take back its trash just as Japan recalled trash shipments during the time of president Joseph Estrada.

As we write, Canada’s illegal trash shipments, totaling around 1,300 tons, have been sitting on Philippine ports for 1,066 days since 2013. And the trash is mixed municipal waste—the same kind of waste for which mayors have been put to task last week by the President.

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Imagine what mixed trash is—used diapers, toxic e-waste and decomposing food waste all mixed up, rotting inside shipping containers while the hot Philippine sun bakes and boils this noxious brew. Will President Duterte allow this to be disposed of in our country even as we face our own garbage crisis?

The Canada waste issue may be just one of the many concerns the Duterte administration faces today. But it is essentially about upholding Philippine sovereignty. Among his priorities should be to instruct the Senate to ratify the Basel Ban Agreement to prevent similar transgressions in the future.

President Duterte was quoted last year asking this rhetorical question: “Bakit nila gagawing basurahan ang bayan ko (Why should they make a dumpsite of my country)?” And now this should be followed by an unequivocal fact: Our country cannot be made into a dumping site by rich countries. To continue to turn a blind eye to Canada’s transgression is to make the country more vulnerable to foreign trash being shipped to our shores. It is time for the new President to put his foot down and call for Canada to take back its waste.

—ANNA KAPUNAN, campaigner, BAN Toxics, [email protected]

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TAGS: Canada, Duterte, garbage, letter, Letter to the Editor, opinion, Perfecto Yasay, Rodrigo Duterte, Trash, waste
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