Reporters told not to talk trash
TORONTO, Canada—It was the smelly elephant in the room that nobody wanted to acknowledge.
President Benigno Aquino III didn’t see the need to raise the matter of the cargo of trash that was shipped from Canada to the Philippines two years ago with his host, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
On Friday morning, the two leaders talked in private, then held a joint briefing and a working lunch at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, but the topic of the trash didn’t come up.
“I think, before we left Manila, this was already prepared by the relevant agencies tasked to examine the problem,” Mr. Aquino said.
Canadian protocol officers had relayed a specific request to journalists not to raise the matter during the joint briefing by the two leaders.
Filipino environmentalists had called on Mr. Aquino to demand that Canada take back the shipment—50 container vans filled with household and plastic waste—during his meeting with Harper.
The President said a Philippine court, acting on a complaint from the Bureau of Customs (BOC), was now hearing the matter.
“The bottom line is we already filed a complaint. The BOC filed a complaint against the importer and the importing company’s brokers,” he said.
In December 2014, prosecutors filed about 15 criminal cases against the importer Chronic Plastics and its licensed brokers, Mr. Aquino said.
“The waste is considered hazardous. It’s been in the Port of Manila for two years. It poses a risk to public health,” he said.
The government dropped its demand that Canada take the garbage back “for the sake of our diplomatic relations,” Environment Secretary Ramon Paje has said.
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