Greenpeace doubts ‘diplomatic exchange’ could stop toxic waste dumping uner JPEPA

“On May 24, 2007, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo?announced that the Japanese government has confirmed that Japan will not export toxic waste to the Philippines under. The confirmation is contained in an exchange of diplomatic notes signed on the same day by Secretary Romulo and?Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso,” Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxics Campaigner Beau Baconguis said.

But Baconguis said the diplomatic exchange only reinforces the “pervading?concern that there is an underlying intention to trade in hazardous waste?within the JPEPA.”

She stressed that the JPEPA still includes provisions which ‘incentivizes’?trading of hazardous wastes and that “the diplomatic notes now being packaged?as some kind of side agreement to the treaty are not as clear-cut as both?parties would like to make it appear.”

She noted that while the diplomatic notes cited Japanese and Philippine laws as well as the Basel Convention as bases for the non-exportation of toxic waste, “current hazardous waste laws in the Philippines are among the weakest in Southeast Asia, and allow the entry of toxic waste under the guise of recycling.”

“In essence, what the diplomatic notes say is that Japan will not be sending?its hazardous waste to the Philippines unless the latter party agrees to it.

Given what we know about the DENR's slack permitting system for hazardous?waste imports, we are constrained to take this latest pronouncement with a?grain of salt,” Baconguis said.

She further noted that while both countries have signed the Basel Convention, neither has ratified the Basel Ban Amendment. She said that without the Ban Amendment, industrialized countries may still dump their hazardous wastes in the Philippines in the guise of recycling.

"With the current text of the JPEPA, the Philippines is wide open to a shameless list of toxic waste that includes used diapers and radioactive nuclear waste. If indeed both countries are strongly committed to addressing environmental concerns, they would opt for removing such toxic provisions in the treaty rather than merely issuing diplomatic letters external to the original agreement, and whose weight, in the face of the bilateral treaty itself, is highly questionable," she added. (MindaNews)