(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte’s strong stand against Canada on the issue of returning its trash back to its shores has inspired other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to also take a strong stand on saying no to wastes being dumped into their countries.
This was relayed by Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero of the Bureau of Customs to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Guerrero, who came from the 28thmeeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs held at the Lao Republic, reported to Dominguez that the ASEAN member nations were thankful to the Philippines for making a strong stand regarding the garbage issue.
-ASEAN nations thank PHL for taking stand vs garbage dumping-
“Malaysia was thanking the Philippines for setting the example, this problem about the wastes, because now it has come to the consciousness of the international community, this garbage problem,” Guerrero said during the Execom meeting at the Department of Finance.
Guerrero reported that he had called on his counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to strengthen the law enforcement capabilities of the organization’s member-states not only in the war against drug trafficking, but also in preventing the region from being a dumping ground for hazardous materials such as garbage of other countries.
He said his fellow customs officials from the ASEAN member-states reacted positively to his proposal.
The Customs commissioner recalled how Malaysia and other ASEAN member nations thanked the Philippines for setting the example in the region when President Duterte stood pat in his decision to compel Canada to immediately repatriate 69 containers of trash that were dumped in Manila six years ago.
-Malaysia, Cambodia also returning Canada trash-
Other ASEAN countries like Malaysia and Cambodia are also working to have wastes dumped in their countries returned to Canada, Guerrero said.
Guerrero said that as a result of President Duterte’s tough stand on the issue, he has received reports that plans to have other shipments of wastes transported to the country have now been scuttled.
It should be recalled that after Canada failed to meet the original May 15 deadline set by President Duterte for the return of the imported wastes, the government recalled its ambassador and consuls to Canada to demonstrate its “diminished diplomatic relations” with the North American country.
This action prompted Canada to move its earlier June 30 commitment in repatriating the waste to the Philippines’ revised May 30 deadline.
Beating the deadline set by the government, the 69 containers of waste from Canada mislabeled by a private importer as recyclable materials and dumped in the Philippines six years ago were finally shipped out of the country last May 31.
The South Korean government has also committed to help ship back to its country some 5,176 metric tons (MT) of waste materials illegally imported here last year and currently stored at the PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority premises in Misamis Oriental.
To support the Philippine government’s strong stand against wastes entering the country, Finance Secretary Dominguez is eyeing the creation of a special strike team that would make sure that waste materials from other countries would not be able to enter the country.
Dominguez has already directed Customs Commissioner Guerrero to look into the creation of this strike team within the agency “to guard against the entry of waste materials that other countries are attempting to dump in the Philippines.”