The Philippines is prepared to return 69 container vans of garbage to Canada by May 15 but bureaucratic red tape in the Canadian government has slowed down the process of reexporting the trash back to their country.
In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said all requirements and preparations on the part of the Philippine government have already been met to facilitate the reexport of the wastes back to Canada.
Guerrero said a series of meetings from April 30 up to May 6 were conducted between the Philippine Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) and representatives from the Canadian government, along with the inspection of the containers housing the trash both at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and the Port of Subic (POS), to ensure compliance with the Finance chief’s instructions to ship the wastes out of the country by May 15.
The Philippine government, through the IAC, is now ready with the necessary documentary requirements to facilitate the re-export, while the shipping lines tasked to transport the wastes have already conducted a seaworthiness check on the containers and have made the necessary preparations to ensure that all of them will be returned to Canada, Guerrero said.
“However, despite the Philippine government’s readiness to re-export the wastes, the Canadian government informed that it might take weeks for them to arrange the necessary documents from their end and that they might not meet the May 15 deadline,” Guerrero said in his report to Dominguez.
Guerrero said these Canadian documents pertain to import permits and the bidding of fumigation services for the containers, which Canada has agreed to pay. The Canadian government said these documents could take “a couple of weeks” to process.
The 69 container vans were what remained of the 103 container vans of garbage from Canada that were dumped in the ports of Subic and Manila in 2013 and 2014. Thirty-four of the containers were already disposed. According to news reports, charges have been filed against the importer, broker and other individuals involved in bringing the shipment of trash to the Philippines.
In his report, Guerrero said that meetings were conducted among officials of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Canadian Embassy to ensure that the remaining 69 container vans of wastes are returned to Canada.
A letter sent by Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Global Affairs Donald Bobiash and Associate Assistant Deputy Minister Helen Ryan to DENR Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna last April 24 confirmed the Canadian government’s commitment to “cover the costs of, and make the necessary arrangements to bring the waste materials contained in the 69 containers that remain in the Ports of Subic and Manila back to Canada, and to manage their disposal in Canada.”
“To do so, we will work with the Philippine government to arrange for the necessary transfer of ownership of the materials in the 69 containers to Canada, so that arrangements can be made for their return to Canada,” the letter added.
Guerrero said that after a random inspection by both Philippine and Canadian officials of the containers of wastes last April 30, the IAC, led by DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, met on May 2 to discuss how to speed up their return to Canada, including a proposal to transport these by batches in order to comply with the May 15 deadline set by Dominguez.
In a separate meeting between Cimatu and Canadian Ambassador John Holmes, the latter said the transport of the wastes by batches was unlikely because Canada is looking at shipping these all at once.
On May 3, the two sides agreed that the DENR will shoulder the costs of inspection to determine the seaworthiness of the containers of wastes, while Canada will shoulder the costs of fumigation and the transfer/trucking services.
Guerrero said from May 3 to 6, the shipping lines involved in transporting the wastes–Zim Line, CMA-CGM and Maersk–inspected the containers for seaworthiness. They reported that all 69 containers are considered seaworthy, with one to be secured with a flat rack container at its bottom part because it has already been infested by termites.