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Green groups pull up environment agency.

Manila: Concerned sectors have exposed a plan by certain government agencies to accept several shipping container loads of various waste materials from Canada to the Philippines.

In August and September 2013, two shipments comprising 50 storage containers full of plastic waste from Canada were taken in at the Port of Manila. The cargoes had been declared as plastic scrap materials for recycling, but upon inspection, consignment yielded trash materials such as infant disposable diapers, paper and the like.

An Ontario, Canada based company, Chronic Inc was responsible for the shipment together with its Philippines-based partner, Chronic Plastics which is based in Manila's suburb of Valenzuela City.

The continuing practice of accepting waste materials in the Philippines had drawn concern from various concerned groups as they said that such actions could lead to an impression of foreign shippers regarding the country as a dumping ground for their waste.

But in a press briefing held on Thursday, groups such as EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the partylist Ang Nars, said that certain government agencies could be in cahoots with the Canadian firm for the disposal of the toxic waste in the Philippines.

The groups accused the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Customs of collusion as they said that these agencies have been "keen on disposing the illegally dumped Canadian toxic waste in the country instead of fighting to have it sent back to Canada for violating international law."

"Clearly, this [dumping of wastes in our country] is a reflection of our dignity as a nation," said Rep. Leah Paquiz of Ang Nars Party.

Pacquiz said she would launch a congressional inquiry into the issue.

Earlier in September, Senator Miriam Defensor had announced that she was spearheading a similar move at the Upper Chamber.

"Republic Act 9003 prohibits the importation of toxic wastes misrepresented as recyclable or with recyclable content," Defensor-Santiago had stated then when she filed the resolution last September 17.

Contacted by Gulf News, Corporate Communications Manager Siony Flores of the Philippine Ports Authority said some of the shipping containers containing toxic wastes have been sent already from the Port of Manila to in Cabuyao in Laguna south of Metro Manila and to the Clarkfreeport in Central Luzon.

"One container which was already leaking heavily was sent back to the Port of Manila because the Clarkfreeport authorities refuse to accept it," she said.

Von Hernandez, President of EcoWaste Coalition and Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia said "the proposal from the government [to send the cargo to other parts of Luzon] sends a signal to unscrupulous and illegal waste traders to ship their unwanted junk to the Philippines."

"There can be no compromises here, this garbage shipment must be sent back to Canada, its country of origin," Hernandez insisted, adding: "We find it outrageous that the primary government agency mandated to protect the environment is the main instigator of the proposal to have these illegal waste shipments disposed of in our shores. Why should Filipino taxpayers bear the burden associated with this illegal shipment?"

Lawyer Richard Gutierrez, Executive Director of BAN Toxics, said "Illegal toxic waste trade is an international crime."

"It is no different from dealing in illegal drugs, endangered species, and other forms of trade that the international community has deemed noxious," he added.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 10, 2014
Words:571
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