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Philippines lets Canada dump waste

Staff writer |
The Philippines government is allowing tonnes of household and plastic scraps from Canada to be disposed within its territory amidst public protests, two years after the waste was discovered by port authorities in Manila.

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Philippines president Benigno Aquino III confirmed to Filipino reporters during his state visit to Canada that the waste issue has been addressed by the government's executive agencies, when asked if he felt the matter need not be raised with Canadian authorities.

He said that appropriate action - whether the waste will be incinerated or buried in a landfill - will be taken once the court gives clearance to the agencies.

Aquino's statement drew flak from environmental and public health campaign groups in the Philippines, which have been pressing Canada for more than a year now to take back the waste.

Aileen Lucero, a coordinator with non-profit group EcoWaste Coalition, said on Monday that Aquino had let the Filipino people down for not standing up for the country's sovereignty.

It's a bizarre stance coming from a country with a gargantuan garbage problem to deal with and we deplore it," she added.

Before Aquino's departure to Canada, Lucero's group and other environmental campaign groups, including BAN Toxics, Greenpeace Philippines and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, had urged the president not to “sweep the issue of Canada's waste under the rug” and to tackle it with Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

DENR secretary Ramon Paje confirmed this to be the case. He said in a published interview last month that the waste problem is settled for the sake of the country's diplomatic relations with Canada.

"It has been resolved. The DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) has strongly recommended it be settled diplomatically," Paje was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as saying.

"We still hold that the best thing to be done is that they (Canada) take it back, but what will be the effect? It will affect our diplomatic relations," he added.

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