Trudeau commits to find solution to garbage issue

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 13) — Same promise, different presidents.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday told President Rodrigo Duterte the Canadian government "is very much engaged in finding a solution" to the controversial dumping of Canadian garbage in the Philippines in 2013.

Trudeau said he made this commitment to Duterte Tuesday morning, on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Canada Summit that the Philippines is hosting.

A total of 103 container vans containing trash weighing 2,450 tons were shipped to the Philippines in several batches from 2013 to 2014.  Some of the vans remain at the Port of Manila.

During the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Manila in 2015, when former President Benigno Aquino III was still in office, Trudeau said a "Canadian solution was being developed."

When asked about the delay, Trudeau said "legal barriers and restrictions" prevented his country from taking the trash back.

"Those impediments have now been addressed," Trudeau said in a news briefing on Tuesday.

The Canadian Embassy in Manila in 2015 said there are no laws enabling the government to compel the shipper to have the containers of garbage returned.

Trudeau also said his government has a number of questions on who will shoulder the expenses for shipping the trash back to Canada, but ensured that Canadian officials will work with the Philippine government.

But as far as the Philippines is concerned, the Manila Regional Trial Court in May 2017 already ordered the return of 50 container vans carrying Canadian garbage, to be paid for by the Canadian private company that had it shipped.

An Inter-Agency Committee formed and chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Customs, Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Justice, said steps need to be be taken to implement the order.

The DENR on Tuesday said governments of both countries are exerting efforts to address the issue.

The tons of trash are not toxic or hazardous and could even be recycled, said Geri-Geronimo Sañez, Chief, Hazardous Waste Management Section Tuesday. Local environment groups, however, say otherwise.

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