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Environment group demands immediate ban on import of hazardous waste to PH

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By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

An environmental justice organization called for the immediate ban on the importation of hazardous waste and other garbage, following the failure of the Canadian government to comply with the May 15 deadline to take back tons of trash illegally shipped to the Philippines in 2013.

“The righteous anger that Filipinos have expressed over the continued presence of the Canadian trash continues to be frustrated by the long delay in its return to Canada,” Ban Toxics executive director Reynaldo San Juan said.

“President Duterte expressed our collective anger, and we need to channel this by taking concrete action and ratify the Basel Ban Amendment immediately,” he added.

The Basel Ban Amendment is a revision to the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes, an international treaty designed to reduce and control the movement of hazardous wastes between countries. It specifically prohibits the export of hazardous wastes from rich to poorer countries, such as the Philippines.

The Philippines ratified the Basel Convention in 1994 and has yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which is designed to protect developing countries to avoid becoming a dumping ground for unwanted toxic waste and garbage.

The Philippines has been victim to illegal dumping of hazardous wastes and garbage, and the Canadian trash is just one of several incidents.

Early this year, around 1,400 tons of household waste from South Korea arrived in the country. The collective effort of government groups and non-government organizations led to the repatriation of the waste to South Korea, with environmental advocates citing the incident as a huge success in the fight against transboundary movements of hazardous wastes.

Still, the country faces a number of issues related to hazardous waste shipments.

In 2013, 50 container vans containing household waste were shipped to the Philippines from Canada. The waste has remained in the country over half a decade later, leading President Duterte to issue a deadline for Canada to take back the waste.

Various reports have noted that Canada has agreed to take back the waste, but their actions remain to be seen.

“We appeal to President Duterte, to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment immediately,” San Juan said.

“Put the responsibility of policing hazardous waste exporters to the country of export, such as Canada. We need to be smart in addressing the problem, and the Basel Ban Amendment is a valuable tool towards protecting a significant portion of the population who are put at risk by toxic waste dumping,” he explained.

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