Five years ago, a Canadian company sent 103 containers labeled “recyclable plastic” to the Manila International Container Terminal. I, a Filipino-Canadian working as a peacebuilder in the Philippines, am so embarrassed that a Canadian company considers used adult diapers, household garbage, and other wastes as “recyclable plastic.” This garbage is hurting the relations between Canada and the Philippines.

The Filipinos have asked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take back the garbage during his trips to the Philippines in both 2015 and 2017. But we feel we are not being heard. Both the Canadian and the Philippines authorities, in 2018, agreed to solve this problem through a joint working group. But then they are paralyzed right now on the issue of shipping bills. I can’t believe that the Canadians are asking who would pay for these garbage to be shipped back to Canada?!

The Philippine authorities have disposed 34 containers of garbage within our inadequate waste management system. Canada even tried to convince the Philippines to dispose of the trash locally or find another nearby country in Asia willing to take it! The Canadians have been avoiding to ship the garbage all the way back to Vancouver. Many of us are feeling that the Canadians seem to look at us as their garbage dumping area.

From the perspective of peacebuilding — that aspect of peace that deals with economic-ecological harmony — this bring shame to our organizations, PeaceBuilders Community and Coffee for Peace, which are largely supported by Canadians. We, at PeaceBuilders Community, look at this as a violation of international law according to experts. Shipping garbage to another country without its permission is unlawful!

This is not the Canada I know.

We stand in solidarity with the civil society organizations and government agencies who are working to return the garbage back to Canada. I respectfully call on the Canadian government, to whom I pay my taxes, to get rid of this garbage that spoils the relationship between my country of birth and my country of global ministry.

And no, I do not support any call for war because of garbage politics.

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