Duterte tells West to stop dumping trash in Asia

Edith Regalado - The Philippine Star

BANGKOK – President Duterte strongly opposed the practice of some Western countries of dumping their garbage under the guise of “recyclables” to Asian countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The President, during the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Summit held here, called the attention of ASEAN member-states to such Western nations’ practice as he pushed for the protection of the environment and marine biodiversity, especially on the remaining resources of ASEAN countries.

“If we are talking about improving the ecology of the place, the environment, then we must take into account what we dump,” Duterte said during the Special Lunch on Sustainable Development last Monday.

Duterte urged ASEAN countries to also tell Western countries to mind what they dump to other places, noting that this could be “hazardous” to the environment and people.

“I think, Mr. Chair, this is as good as any other time and any place to tell the other countries, the Western countries, to be more circumspect,” he said.

Canada shipped more than 2,000 tons of hazardous waste to the Philippines a few years ago, drawing the ire of the President. He issued an order to ship back the waste to the country of origin. The Philippines was able to return 69 shipping containers of trash last May.

“When I was told that this garbage has been sent to us by some countries, I ordered immediately that they be shipped out on the first ship going to the North American continent. And I told them that if they do not accept their garbage, then you just drop the container near their ports,” Duterte said.  

He also suggested the conduct of regular meetings to gather opinions and recommendations from experts and to discourage developed nations from sending their trash to other countries.

Meanwhile, Duterte also said the ASEAN has come of age with two of the regional bloc’s member states – Indonesia and Vietnam – set to occupy seats at the United Nations Security Council.

Speaking before the 10th ASEAN-United Nations Dialogue Monday, the President emphasized that 2020 is an auspicious year for ASEAN. 

“This is ASEAN’s coming of age as this meant the association’s further engagement with the world,” he said.?ASEAN comprises the economies of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

Last June, the President reiterated his call for the regional grouping to be the voice of reason and moderation. He stressed that ASEAN can also play a crucial role in conflict resolution and conflict prevention, a job that the United Nations is currently performing.?Duterte also called on ASEAN and the UN to pursue preventive diplomacy, including the advancement of women in the peace and security agenda, which the Philippines pioneered in the ASEAN Women’s Peace Registry and to enhance the cooperation on sustainable security.

Both, according to him, must promote counter-narratives to address the message of hate and destruction propagated by violent extremists and terrorists. 

The President cited the experience of the Philippines in Marawi City to show such methodology of international cooperation.?He also expressed his appreciation for the actions taken, with the assistance of the UN, to build resilience and strengthen the support for climate change adaptation and mitigation in a region where national disasters occur frequently.  

ASEAN and the UN have embarked on several partnerships on various aspects for the development of people and the regional bloc’s citizenry.

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