Following a new discovery in the Port of Manila of yet another 48 containers of rotting household garbage illegally exported from Canada, environmental justice groups BAN Toxics (BT), Seattle based Basel Action Network (BAN), and Greenpeace Philippines strongly condemned the Canadian government for "callous disregard of international law". The newly discovered batch of containers has been sitting for over a year at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and is just now undergoing abandonment proceedings under the Bureau of Customs as the consignee -- Live Green Enterprise failed to claim the shipment.
50 similar containers that arrived in 2013 exported by the same Canadian company, Chronics Inc., have been the subject of an international furor, including a verbal condemnation of Canada before the 12th Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention in Geneva just last week.
"This is insult to injury," said Richard Gutierrez, Executive Director of BT. "Canada’s callous disregard for international law is simply not acceptable any more. We had warned President Aquino about the consequences of letting Canada push us around by agreeing to bury their first illegal shipment on Philippine soil. How long will the Philippines be willing to submit to what is nothing less than waste colonialism?"
Greenpeace echoed the sentiment: "The chorus of voices from Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago to street protests, clearly have demonstrated the displeasure of Filipinos to be continuously subjected to the indignity of becoming the world’s trash bin," said Abi Aguilar of Greenpeace Philippines. "Canada must do the right thing and take back all of these illegal shipments immediately."
Under the Basel Convention, household waste is strictly controlled on Annex II and cannot be exported to any country without prior notification and consent, which Canada did not seek, and did not receive. Further, under the terms of the Convention, Canada should repatriate the waste and prosecute the exporter criminally.
According to customs officials who asked to remain anonymous, the contents of the second batch of containers were misdeclared as recycled plastics rather than household waste. According to the Bureau of Customs, the Canadian waste could pose health and environmental risks.
In a statement sent to BAN’s director Jim Puckett, Canadian officials claimed that "there are no domestic laws which the Government of Canada could apply to compel the shipper to return its containers to Canada."
But last week, the Center for International Environmental Law’s David Azoulay stated before the Basel Convention Conference in Geneva that, "Canada cannot use this as an excuse to evade its obligations under the treaty. This is clearly established by article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the laws of treaties."
"This is a clear cut case of non-compliance with the Basel," said Puckett, whose organization watchdogs the Convention. "BAN will be filing a complaint with the Secretariat and will continue to raise this until Canada admits its mistake and prosecutes this case in accordance with the law. Meanwhile any actions by the Philippines to dispose of the Canadian waste will also be condemned as aiding and abetting non-compliance."
In addition to the Basel Convention, the importation violates a number of local laws such as the DENR Administrative Order 28 (Interim Guidelines for the Importation of Recyclable Materials Containing Hazardous Substances) and Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.