Filipinos mob Trudeau, gets promise to solve garbage problem

philippines-1 Filipino environmental activists demand Canada takes back its garbage. (National Post)

MANILA – (Nov. 19,2015)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to address the trash problem which has been an irritant between the two countries for the past two years.

Trudeau, who is in Manila for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, said he has already been informed about the trash problem and a solution is now “being developed,” reports ABS-CBN News.

The previous Harper government ignored the issue and did not raise it with President Benigno Aquino’s state visit to Canada before the federal elections.

Dubbed an “Apec Hottie” on social media, Trudeau was mobbed by journalists and other fans as he was leaving the media centre surrounded by security personnel.

Tudeau mobbed
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is mobbed by screaming fans as he leaves the media centre.

Some 55 containers of trash were intercepted in 2013 because these were misdeclared as scrap plastics, in violation of the Tariff Code.

Trudeau vowed to close the loopholes in the law that allowed the importation of Canadian dump into Philippine soil, but he remained vague whether or not he would take the garbage back.

Instead of shipping these back to Canada, the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) has decided to dump the trash in Capas, Tarlac at the Philippines’ expense.

The Ontario-based Chronic Inc. shipped the containers to Manila through its Valenzuela-based consignee, Chronic Plastics. The BOC filed criminal charges against Chronic Plastics for violating the Revised Penal Code, the Tariff and Customs Code and the 1990 Toxic Waste Act.

It also called on Canada to take back the shipment under a 1995 convention on hazardous waste, which provides that “the exporting country must take back the waste materials if the receiving country refuses to accept them.””I know that this has exposed a problem that needs fixing within our own legislation that we’re going to lean into and ensure it will happen,” he added.

Before Trudeau’s arrival, a Change.org petition resurfaced, calling on Canada’s new leader to take with him the trash shipped to the Philippines.

“Pick up your imported garbage, Canada. It’s the civil thing to do for a first world country like you,” the petition asked.

The petition has since gained over 42, 000 signatures.

Trudeau said revising Canadian laws will help strengthen the Canadian government’s hand vis-a-vis the companies that ship out these wastes.

“Going forward, we need to ensure that if a situation like this were to arise once again, the Canadian government has more power to actually demand action from companies responsible,” he said.
Trudeau said he also wants to ensure good diplomatic relations.

“I believe there are loopholes here that were allowed to be skirted that we need to make sure we close, both for Canada’s interest and for good relationships with our neighbors,” he added.

Trudeau expressed his appreciation for the attention Filipinos gave him but he said he hoped he would be judged beyond his good looks.

He said he has learned to focus on “substance” and not just on external features.

“I have absolutely adored my stay in the Philippines. Everyone has been tremendously friendly and, for me, it was an opportunity to engage with a culture that I’ve gotten to know very well in Canada. We have over 700,000 Canadians of Filipino origin and the ties that bind our countries together are very strong. So for me to be able to be here and see what a beautiful and welcoming country so many of my fellow Canadian citizens call home or original home is a real pleasure,” Trudeau said.

He went on to share a lesson he learned from his father – the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau – to set aside “positive impressions that weren’t grounded in reality” and instead focus on “substance.”

“What I also had to learn is that there were a lot of people who liked my father and liked me for reasons entirely unrelated to who I actually was, and I had to learn to set aside positive impressions that weren’t grounded in reality,” Trudeau said.

“So, throughout my life, I have focused on what I have to do and the substance of what I put forward, and that has left me both grounded and able to focus regardless of perceptions or attentions to things external,” he added.