Philippines recalls its envoys in Canada over tons of rotting garbage

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 16, 2019

Filipino envoys posted in Canada were recalled after Ottawa missed the deadline on shipping out its garbage from Manila, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. bared Thursday morning.

Letters that ordered the recalling of the Philippine ambassador and consuls to Canada were sent out at midnight and they are expected to be back here in about a day, Locsin said. "And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there".

Duterte threatened last month to forcibly ship the containers of rubbish back to Canada and dump some at its embassy in Manila if Canadian officials don't take back the waste.

The consignments were labeled as containing plastics to be recycled in the Philippines, but were filled with diapers, newspapers and water bottles instead.

There are 901,218 Filipinos in Canada as of April 2018, comprising a mix of naturalized Canadians, permanent residents and temporary foreign workers.

Philippine officials say they were falsely declared by a private firm as recyclable plastic scraps and have asked Canada to take back the rubbish.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday that the government is open to delaying the shipment for one to three weeks because some documents are still being ironed out, as long as Canada pays for the storage fees. "Otherwise, we're gonna sever relations with them", Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

"Prepare a grand reception", he said. "Canada missed the May 15 deadline". "Eat it if you want to".

Canada says the waste, exported to Manila between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by its government.

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana later downplayed Duterte's war threats, saying the president was using a "figure of speech" to express his displeasure.

The Canadian Embassy in Manila told the BBC that they have "made an offer to repatriate the Canadian waste" and are closely engaged with the Philippines "to ensure the shipment's return, as quickly as possible".

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.

Experts say that the dispute has blighted Canada's reputation overseas, particularly because Trudeau has said that combating climate change and protecting the environment is near the top of his agenda.

Last month, the Pacific Centre for International Law and Litigation in British Columbia issued a legal opinion that said Canada had violated the convention because it inaccurately described the content of the containers and failed to take them back within 30 days of being notified of their contents.

Canada earlier affirmed its commitment to take back the garbage.

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