Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero chided the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for not taking a stronger stance when it asked Canada to take back the toxic waste it has been dumping in the Philippines since 2013.
Escudero, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said the Philippine government should exhaust all measures to ensure that the waste goes back to Canada.
“Dapat ibalik ang basura sa pinanggalingan nito. Hindi tapunan ng basura ang Pilipinas,” Escudero said, referring to the 103 container vans with Canadian waste that ended on Philippine shores.
Presiding over today’s committee hearing on the country’s waste disposal and management system, Escudero expressed disgust at how Canada’s waste has caused the Philippines so much trouble.
“Hindi ba nakakabaliktad ng sikmura na tayo na ang pinadalhan ng basura, tayo pa ang sumasakit ang ulo at tayo pa ngayon ang nagbabayad o gumagastos para ma-dispose ito?” Escudero said.
When reports of Canada’s dumping of toxic waste in the Philippines broke, an inter-agency committee composed of the DFA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) was formed to address the issue.
The DFA sent a diplomatic note to Canada on the matter, but far from expressing the strong public sentiment against the dumping of waste, the foreign affairs department only sought the Canadian government’s assistance in the “expeditious return of containers to the port of origin at no cost to the government.”
“Canada was treated with kid gloves. Dapat mas matindi at mas mabigat ang posisyon natin laban dito. Hindi nung sinabi ngCanada na wala kaming batas na pwedeng gamitin para utusan ang aming local exporter na ibalik ang mga yan, hindi na rin natin ipinilit,” Escudero said.
Canada is a signatory to the Basel Convention, an international treaty that bans the export of waste.
The first batch of 50 container vans, incorrectly labeled “recyclable plastic materials,” arrived in Philippine ports in June 2013. Another batch came a few months after. The vans were found to carry household wastes.
In June, 26 containers of the rotting garbage were dumped at a sanitary landfill in Tarlac.
Environmentalists fiercely protested against the dumping, saying the garbage being shipped here contained “toxic, hazardous garbage.” The DENR, however, told the Senate committee that the materials inside the disputed container vans are “neither toxic nor hazardous.”
In today’s hearing, Escudero asked the inter-agency task committee to provide a conclusive sampling of the waste to determine whether it is toxic or not. He said the DENR, DFA and BOC should present a more comprehensive report so that the government can make relevant recommendations “to strengthen our stance in this toxic issue.”
“This is a matter of national shame and pride. A shame on Canada for dumping their garbage on someone else’s backyard, our pride as a nation of peoples, not of garbage cans. We must stand up and clean our backyard of this Canadian waste,” Escudero said./- www.chizescudero.com/ FB: senchizescudero TWITTER: @saychiz @chiznewsalert