During a cabinet meeting to discuss the recent earthquake in the Philippines, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Bureau of Customs to send back the trash that arrived from Canada in 2013. The Philippine president wants all that garbage sent back to Canada ASAP.
A Whitby, ON company called Chronic Inc. imported 50 containers to the Philippines. Its contents were declared as plastic for recycling, but were found to contain household waste.
The containers continue to sit at the Port of Manila. In 2016, the Manila Regional Trial Court ruled that the importer should shoulder the expenses in sending the containers back to Canada.
Jim Makris, owner of Chronic Inc. was interviewed by the Toronto Star in 2014. Makris expressed indignation at the allegations that his company had imported the containers full of household waste from Canada.
The local company that served as consignee was Chronic Plastics, located in Valenzuela City. Makris had opened the Philippine company in 2013, and had employed 150 workers to sort through plastics at one point.
Chronic Plastics is no longer in operation.
Makris denies any wrongdoing on his part, claiming that the contents of the containers were 95% plastic, and that he purchased these from a Vancouver-based recycling plant.
Philippine Government officials had contacted Makris in 2014.
At the time, the Government of Canada, under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, issued a statement saying that it was a “private commercial matter involving a Canadian company and its Philippines partner.”
Which, as it turns out, was one and the same.
During the 31st ASEAN Summit held Manila in November 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated that it would be “theoretically” possible to send the containers back to Canada.
Prime Minister Trudeau also said that he had “obviously been made aware of the situation and I’ve also been told that there is a Canadian solution in the process of being developed…at the same time, I know that this has exposed a problem that needs fixing within our own legislation that we’re going to lean into and make sure happens.”
Fast forward to 2019, and the protests continue. Environmental groups are calling for the Government of Canada to take back the garbage, which is still at the Port of Manila. 29 out of the 50 containers have already been disposed of in landfills in Manila.
Plus, President Duterte is now angry about the whole thing, stating that he’s prepared to get in a boat and take the whole thing back to Canada himself.
During the meeting, President Duterte said: “Buang ito kinakaya-kaya tayo. Hindi ako papayag ng ganoon.”
Which loosely translates to: “This is crazy, they’re just pushing us around. I’m not going to let them get away with it.”
The Philippine President also threatened to fire any Bureau of Customs employees who allow additional shipments of garbage to enter the country.
Canada will hold federal elections this October. With what has transpired thus far, President Duterte might have to communicate his disappointment with the entire situation with a third Prime Minister of Canada.
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