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House leader calls on incoming 18th Congress to prioritize passage of bill prohibiting importation of recyclable plastics

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By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Outgoing Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo is calling on the incoming 18th Congress to prioritize the passage of a bill that would prohibit the importation of recyclable plastics.

MV Bavaria arrives at New Container Terminal at Subic port where 69 containers of Canadian trash will be loaded for repatriation to Canada. More than 100 containers of Canadian trash illegally arrived in 2013-2014. (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

MV Bavaria arrives at New Container Terminal at Subic port where 69 containers of Canadian trash will be loaded for repatriation to Canada. More than 100 containers of Canadian trash illegally arrived in 2013-2014. (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

He made the call during the House Committee on Metro Manila Development meeting on the allegedly unlawful entry of garbage from Canada in Manila ports.

“It is high time for Congress to file a bill seeking to prohibit the importation of recyclable plastics,” he said.

During the committee meeting, Negros Oriental Rep. Arnie “Arnulfo” Teves reiterated his call for the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to implement the “No Xray, No Entry Policy”, claiming that the garbage shipment might have illegal cargoes which he coined as “palaman.”

“Let us do the Math. Bakit mag-iimport ng basura eh mas mura naman dito?” he said, citing that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) should be involved in the matter.

Deputy Commissioner Edward James Dy-Buco of BOC’s Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group confirmed that the freight cost amounted to 1,000 Canadian dollars and the total cost of the trash shipment pegged at P100,000.

He also noted that the cost of shipping back the 69 container vans of thrash is less than P10 million and will be shouldered by the Canadian government.

When Castelo asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) if it would file a diplomatic protest against Canada over the entry of Canadian waste five years ago, Assistant Secretary Maria Lumen Isleta of the DFA’s Office of American Affairs said, “We are working hand-in-hand with the Canadian government.”

“Canada has committed to receive it back,” she said.

During the hearing, she asked the panel to defer its discussion on the Canadian thrash, citing the ongoing diplomatic talks and “some backchanneling.”

The Canadian trash, which consists of household trash, plastic bottles and bags, newspapers, and used adult diapers, was due to be shipped back to Canada Thursday.

Isleta also noted that the Canadian government has “committed to take action against the exporter.”

Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna earlier said the waste will be completed by end of June.

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