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Canada recognizes Philippines toxic waste petition

Canada’s Embassy in the Philippines said Monday that the Canadian government recognized the call of petitioners, both Filipino and Canadian, to have container vans filled with hazardous waste brought back to Canada.

“The government of Canada is aware of the petition and the related concerns,” the embassy said in an emailed statement.

“The Government of Canada continues to be in communication with Philippine authorities on this matter with a view to address the situation in accordance with our respective regulations,” it said.

Thousands of Canadians have joined an online petition that was started by Filipino environmentalist groups and nongovernment organizations urging Canada to “re-export 50 forty-footer container vans back to Canada.”

The petition also asks Canada “to reimburse the actual cost incurred by the Philippine government; and, to (repair) the damages it may have caused.”

On Jan. 21, the Bureau of Customs held a shipment from Canadian company Chronic Inc. that was found to contain household waste materials. The containers are still in the port of Manila and are leaking, according to Anna Kapunan of Ang Nars Partylist who started the petition.

Canadians commented on the petition expressing their disdain for the incident.

“I can’t even comprehend the reasons why these containers would be shipped to the Philippines. How horrible for the Philippines! This definitely should be stopped and Canadian garbage should remain on Canadian soil for Canadians to deal with. I’m truly sorry this is happening. Here’s hoping our petitions and government can make it stop,” Roxanne Letourneau of Winnipeg, Canada, said in the petition.

“The fact that now, in April, this illegal hazardous waste has not been totally cleaned up and all involved agencies, government in the Philippines have not been reimbursed is disgusting. As a Canadian, I’m insulted,” Susan Dales of Mississauga, Ontario, said in her comment.

Canada said in its statement that the shipment could be returned if it was found to have violated the Basel Convention as well as Canadian domestic regulations.

The two countries are signatories to the 1995 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

“Consistent with its obligations under the Basel Convention, Canada prohibits the shipment of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials across international borders without the prior informed consent of the importing jurisdiction,” the Canadian Embassy said.

“The Basel Convention and Canadian domestic regulations contain provisions that allow for shipments to be returned, if they are found to be in contravention with the convention or cannot be completed in an environmentally sound manner,” it said.

By Matikas Santos

(Philippine Daily Inquirer)