The issue on Canadian’s waste being dumped in the Philippines really bothered me from the time it flared up early this year. Now, it’s Christmas time and the said waste still sit and linger in the Philippines’ soil and air. Does Philippines deserve this kind of “unwanted gift” from a country who has reputation for magnificent scenery, cleanliness and plentiful eco-friendly flora and fauna?
The appalling sight of 50 (not just 1) container vans filled with hazardous wastes (household trash, old newspapers, plastic bags, adult diapers and other foul smelling materials weighing a total of 891.200.6 kilograms, equivalent to US$222,800.15 ) kept on reverberating in my mind. Who would in his right senses import or export such wastes to or from other countries and for business profit purposes, unless there are “gold mines” found deep down the loads of trash? Who are the end consumers of these wastes? Definitely, they were not meant for “developed” Canadians but obviously the struggling “developing” Filipinos. Indeed, no country whether big or small deserves to be a dumping site of foreign toxic waste materials.
As part of the global citizens, I believe we should be in sync with others who are advocating for an immediate resolution of this case. The legal, foreign affairs and the free trade agreements surrounding the issue should be set aside in a scenario where cleanliness of a particular environment and people’s health are adversely affected. It is expected that both the Canadian and Philippine Governments should resolve the problem the soonest possible time. In this case, it is apparent that the Canadian exporter (and the Filipino importer too) have violated certain laws and regulations, e.g. Tariff and Customs Code, Basel Convention, etc.. It was mentioned that the said vans were allegedly containing “homogenous” plastic scraps for recycling, and not toxic wastes. But, it turned out to be harmful waste materials. So, why is the resolution still taking so slow?
The Philippine Government should not agree with other parties’ suggestion that the said waste be rather disposed in its homeland instead of shipping them back to Canada in order to avoid further related costs. Note that Metro Manila alone has perennial problems with its garbage, from waste segregation, recycling to composting. As a matter of fact, despite the several technical assistance studies undertaken by large institutions such as the Asian Development Bank on how to resolve the country’s worsening solid waste problem, nothing has been done much because the metro city is too densely populated and there are not enough landfills to speak of, apart from the lack of or no space for dump sites for the disposal of waste materials. Metro Manila would require massive overhaul of its solid waste management program before it can have a perfect model. Another study made by the Philippines’ Dept. of Environmental and Natural Resources showed that Metro Manila with an estimated population of 10.5 million has lots of waste that are being produced per year (about 1.95 million metric tons) by households and business establishments. And some of these don’t go to proper disposal. These waste end up in canals, vacant spaces, street corners, market places, rivers and other public places. In view of the country’s present waste disposal problems, how and where would the Government dispose of these additional “imported soiled adult diapers” from Canada? Note that the Philippines couldn’t even dispose properly of its own hospital waste, e.g. Adult diapers, etc. how much more for others’ wastes? Eww, so awful and disgusting!
If the said additional waste of Canada will be finally dumped in the Philippines, it will only worsen the country’s waste disposal program. As such, said hazardous waste should be re-exported back to Canada by all means. The Canadian Government would be in a much better position to get rid of it, taking into account their “outstanding” solid waste management and disposal mechanisms. We all know that unlike the Philippines, Canada has vast lands and vast marine life. It has also some of the freshest air and water in the world. So, there is no reason for the Canadian Government to leave the said hazardous materials in the Philippines. They have ample space where to place these wastes and the technological know on how to dispose the same.
I join the other groups’ clamor that the said hazardous waste be shipped back to Canada for proper disposal. Bear in mind that everyone in this world deserves to have a healthy and cleaner environment. A small country like the Philippines is no exception.
Transporting back the said waste to its point of origin would be a perfect and wonderful present that Canada could give to the Philippines during this Christmas, for the greater good. Thank You!