Trash talk
TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) - April 26, 2019 - 12:00am

It is not clear what precipitated the latest outburst from Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte. But the volatile 73-year-old former mayor of Davao City was reported to have recently trash-talked Canada over tons of, well, trash that made their way here from that country in 2013, three years before he even became president.

The trash, to be sure, did not just wash up on Philippine shores by its own accord. A Philippine company actually imported the refuse, apparently hoping to salvage usable resources from Canada's garbage. And despite its size and available space, Canada, just like any other industrial giant, also struggles with its mounting heaps of rejects and discards.

Clearly, it was a business deal that brought the trash here. But the health and environmental impact of the transaction could not have been that easily overlooked unless responsible officials on both sides of the Pacific consciously chose to ignore it and look the other way.

There is nothing wrong with going into business that involves material recovery. In fact, this type of business should be encouraged and supported. In a world that is increasingly choking in its own trash, reusing and recycling should be the in thing. Unfortunately, noble intentions can quite easily get hijacked by the unscrupulous.

In short, it is entirely possible for some businesses to import trash, not for the purpose of actually making money out of what others throw away but by unburdening other countries of their waste disposal problems at our expense, with nary a thought for the health and environmental consequences.

Now, Duterte has every right to rant and rave over the piles of Canadian garbage festering ominously in some desolate Luzon location, ready to wreak havoc on the national health the minute something goes awry. He has threatened to ship the garbage back to Canada, and even dump it there himself, if half his rantings could be believed.

But threats and rants or not, measurably credible or not, there is really a crying need to crack down on the export-import business of global trash. Countries need to regulate and pay close attention to the conduct and operation of these companies, that is if they cannot be banned and outlawed completely.

Now, there may be another reason for the Duterte rant. He could still be hot under the collar at the interference of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau in Philippine domestic affairs, especially in criticizing Duterte's policies. Somebody must have whispered to Duterte about the trash. And Duterte being Duterte, "nakatilaw lagi'g kasaba si Justin." jerrytundag@yahoo.com

RODRIGO DUTERTE
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