Palace says Duterte ordered ban on waste imports

Ruth Abbey Gita

PIQUED by the tons of garbage shipped from Canada to the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a ban on waste shipments from other countries, Malacañang announced Tuesday, May 7.

The President gave the directive during a meeting with his Cabinet at the Malacañan Palace on Monday, May 6, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said Duterte maintained his stance that the Philippines is not a dumping site.

"The President is firm that we are not garbage collectors, thus he ordered that the Philippines will no longer accept any waste from any country," the Palace official said.

The Philippines, through the Basel Convention it ratified in March 1989, allows the importation of hazardous waste provided a prior informed consent is secured from the government.

Environmental groups have, however, called on the government to take drastic actions to prevent illegal dumping of other nations' trash anywhere in the country.

The call was renewed after Duterte threatened to launch a war against Canada, if it fails to take back heaps of trash sent to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014.

A total of 103 container vans containing over 2,450 tons of waste were shipped to the Philippines in several batches.

The garbage from Canadian-based firm Chronic Plastics Incorporated was initially labelled as "recyclable plastic materials," but the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) found in 2014 that it contained mixed waste such as adult diapers, non-recyclable plastics, and other household trash.

Panelo said Canada, following the President's threat, pledged to pay for the cost of taking back some 69 waste containers.

"On the issue of garbage from Canada, the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources noted that the Canadian government is committed to shoulder all the expenses to ship out all the 69 waste containers," Panelo said. (SunStar Philippines)