Canadian Embassy to help solve stinky garbage issue

In Photo: The controversial garbage import from Canada.

By Recto Mercene

THE Canadian Embassy on Wednesday said it will help in the disposal of the 50 tons of controversial garbage, brought to the country by a private entity, within the year.

Ambassador Neil Reeder made the promise during a media briefing at his residence, saying a solution to the current dispute with the Philippines on the disposal of tons of Canadian waste shipment to the country may be forthcoming.

Reeder did not provide further details, but said the waste shipment will be disposed “in a sustainable manner and in a productive manner.”

“We have been looking at other solutions where we can dispose it in a very sustainable way. I don’t want to put a timeline on it, but I hope it will be resolved soon, within the year,” Reeder told reporters at the New Year reception he hosted at his residence for selected members of the media.

Around 50 containers of waste from Canada were impounded in 2013 by an Ontario-based firm, which the Bureau of Customs (BOC) held and left rotting at the ports for the last three years.

The government, through the BOC, has filed a complaint against Chronic Inc. for shipping the  mixed waste material and hazardous wastes.

The company misdeclared them as “assorted scrap plastic materials for recycling.”

Among the laws violated by the Canadian firm include Sections 3601 and 3602 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, as amended, and Republic Act 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990.

“It was found that what was shipped is not homogenous, not solely plastic. The wastes are considered hazardous. They’ve been in the Port of Manila for two years. They pose a risk to public health,” President Aquino was quoted as saying when the brouhaha reached the Palace.

Since the preliminary investigation on the case concluded in December 2014, the president said the prosecution has already filed 15 criminal cases against Chronic Inc. and its licensed customs brokers at a Regional Trial Court in Manila City.

Manila has conveyed its objection to the shipment to the Canadian government through at least two diplomatic notes, but Canada did not take action, insisting the shipment was not backed by its government and that it was a private transaction.

But Reeder eventually conceded, saying Canada would not like “irritants like this to happen” since it enjoys “a very warm relationship” with the Philippines.

“It was a problem essentially dumped on us by the private sector and now we are trying to solve it,” he said.

During Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, he assured that his government is “developing” a solution to the waste issue, which has been the subject of a couple of diplomatic protests filed by Manila.

He acknowledged that the incident in the Philippines exposed a “problem” that “needs fixing” within Canada’s own legislation.

In its previous diplomatic notes, the Philippines urged the Canadian government to assist with the re-exportation of the containers.

“What we have learned from this as a government, of course, is we have to review our legislation on the export of wastes and ensure that we have the means legally, for example, to take those to court, those who have undertaken exporting wastes without proper authorization or if there is a sense that the contents were not properly identified,” Reeder said.

Although Canada has a “very good environmental record,” Reeder said it will still undertake amendments to its laws to ensure that the incident does not happen again.

He said the stinky affair has highlighted that they should have better monitoring and control with what Canada exports as a country.





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