MANILA - Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III has asked the Senate to look into a private Canadian firm's exportation of trash into the country in 2013 and 2015, an issue that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier called an "irritant" between Manila and Ottawa.
"We have to determine whether there are sufficient legal safeguards restricting the indiscriminate entry and dumping of solid waste and harmful trash into the Philippines and to formulate laws imposing high penalties for the introduction into the country of all forms of trash," Pimentel said in a resolution filed earlier this month.
Pimentel said at least 50 container vans filled with trash from Ontario, Canada were shipped to Manila in June 2013 via Valenzuela-based Chronic Plastics Inc.
A case was filed against the firm's owner in February 2014 for violating the Toxic Substance and Hazardous Wastes and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990.
Despite the case, another 26 container vans filled with Canadian trash were shipped to the Philippines and "dumped at a private land fill" in Capas, Tarlac in 2015.
"For more than 4 years, the imported trash has continued to reek and rot on Philippine soil. Aside from being useless, these tons of solid wastes pose great and irreversible damage to the Philippine environment and an even greater risk to the health of millions of Filipinos," Pimentel said in a statement.
Trudeau vowed to solve the garbage problem between Canada and the Philippines during his first visit to Manila in 2015 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.
Two years later, Trudeau, who came back to Manila to attend another regional summit, repeated the same promise to Filipinos.
"We also discussed the garbage issue which has been a long-standing irritant and I committed to him (President Rodrigo Duterte) as I am happy to commit to you all now that Canada is very much engaged in finding a solution on that," Trudeau said in a press conference last month on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit here.
He said Canada earlier took steps to take back the trash but was hampered by legal hurdles.
"Canadian legal regulations prevented us from being able to receive the waste back to Canada. We had legal barriers and restrictions that prevented us from taking it back, but that's done now," Trudeau said.
The Canadian leader said parties have yet to discuss "who will pay for it, where the financial responsibility is."
But Pimentel, in his resolution, said Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Tita Alisuag ordered Chronic Plastics Inc to shoulder the expense of shipping the trash back to Canada in 2016.
Through the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippines formally requested the Canadian Embassy for assistance to bring the garbage back to Canada, but no assistance was extended, Pimentel said.
Last month, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte has good faith that Trudeau would keep his word and take back the tons of Canadian trash that have rotted here for almost five years.