Recall of envoys reminder PH is not a dumping site: Legarda

MANILA – Senator Loren Legarda on Friday said the government’s strong resolve to send back tons of garbage to Canada is a reminder that the Philippines is not a dumping site of other countries’ waste.

Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations, made the statement after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced that Philippine envoys to Canada have been recalled due to Ottawa’s failure to ship out its garbage from Manila within the May 15 deadline set by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“This is a reminder to other countries that the Philippines is not their dumping site. Solid waste management should be enforced within each country and within their communities,” Legarda said.

“With our strong political will and even stronger cooperation among groups and advocates, we will remain vigilant in safeguarding any threats against our environment and health,” she added.

From 2013 to 2014, a total of 103 container vans from Canada reportedly arrived in batches at the Port of Manila.

The garbage was initially declared to contain only plastic scraps. However, it was found to have non-recyclable plastics, household wastes and used adult diapers.

“It is unacceptable that six years since these containers were shipped to our shores and that despite assurances from the Canadian government to help remove them, their waste is still here, posing significant health and environment risks in our country,” Legarda said.

“Many ecotourism areas in our country are undergoing major rehabilitation from environmental degradation, and this strong resolve against Canada’s waste dump is another push towards ensuring the protection of our environment, natural resources, and health,” she added.

Canada has vowed to work closely with the Philippines in coming up with a “swift resolution” so the waste it had exported to Manila could be promptly shipped back.

“Canada is disappointed by this decision to recall the Philippine ambassador and consuls general. However, we will continue to closely engage with the Philippines to ensure a swift resolution of this important issue,” Guillaume Bérubé, spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an email. (PNA)