DENR undecided on move vs Canada waste

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The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said it will “support” the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) if it decides to file a case against Canada for dumping waste in the Philippines.

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The DENR and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) are the lead agencies handling the waste issue, but DFA, as a member of an inter-agency committee, advises and guides both departments.

“The DFA has actively participated in efforts to find solutions, including providing guidance to DENR, which is the Philippine focal point on how to file a case against Canada at the Basel Secretariat on the convention on transboundary shipments of hazardous and toxic wastes if the DENR so decides,” Charles Jose, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said.

Manila has expressed its great “concern” over some 50 containers that were shipped to Manila in 2013, impounded by Customs, and left to rot for two years.

But the DENR ruled that there was no hazardous waste in the containers and then recently allowed eight of the 50 to be dumped in Tarlac province, north of Manila.

This caused lawmakers and some environmental activists to cry out on the violation of the
Basel Convention, which prevents the movement of hazardous waste between nations,
specifically its transfer from developed to least developed states.

And although the Foreign Affairs department made it clear this was not a diplomatic issue, but rather a commercial one, since it involved a private company, the agency issued a note verbale to Canada in November 2014.

The Canadian Embassy in Manila, however, explained that they do not have domestic laws that compel the private company to take back the containers to Canada.

The DFA, which communicates with the embassy, said it is waiting for a decision from the DENR on whether it will file a case against Canada.

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