BREAKING: Duterte orders ‘immediate’ return of Canada trash; Philippines to shoulder cost
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is “so upset in the ordinate delay of Canada” in taking back its trash that he ordered the return of the tons of garbage to Ottawa “immediately” even if the Philippines has to shoulder the cost.
Malacañang on Wednesday slammed Canada’s seeming inaction over the trash issue.
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is so upset about the inordinate delay of Canada in shipping back its containers of garbage. We are extremely disappointed with Canada’s neither-here-nor-there pronouncements on the matter,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously. The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dumpsite,” he said.
“As a result of this offending delay,” Panelo said, “the President has instructed the appropriate office to look for a private shipping company which will bring back Canada’s trash to the latter’s jurisdiction.”
“The government of the Philippines will shoulder all expenses and we do not mind the same,” he said.
“If Canada will not accept the trash, we will leave the same within the territorial waters or 12 nautical miles out to sea from the baseline of any of their country’s shores,” he added.
Panelo, who also serves Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said “the President’s stance is principled as it is uncompromising.”
“The Philippines is an independent sovereign nation [and] must not be treated as trash by other foreign nations. We hope this message resonates well with other countries of the world,” he pointed out. “It’s been there for five years. My goodness.”
Panelo said the government would ship back the trash “immediately.”
103 containers of household trash
At least 103 containers of household trash, including plastic bottles and bags, newspapers and diapers, were shipped in batches from Canada to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014.
Most of the shipping containers remain in two ports in Manila and northern Subic freeport, sparking protests from environmental activists.
Philippine officials say they were falsely declared by a private firm as recyclable plastic scraps and have asked Canada to take back the garbage.
Duterte raised the garbage issue in a speech last month while officials from both countries were already discussing a resolution to the issue. The volatile president said he was ready to “declare war” against Canada over the issue.
“I want a boat prepared. I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail to Canada and pour their garbage there,” Duterte said, adding he would ask Canadian officials to “prepare a grand reception.”
“Celebrate because your garbage is coming home,” he said. “Eat it if you want to.”
Canada said it has repeatedly expressed its commitment to promptly shipping and disposing of the Canadian waste.
“Canada is disappointed by this decision to recall the Philippines ambassador and consuls general,” said Brittany Fletcher, a spokeswoman for Canada’s foreign affairs department. “However, we will continue to closely engage with the Philippines to ensure a swift resolution of this important issue.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada has been working with officials in the Philippines on the issue “over the past months, very hard over the past weeks.”
“We very much hope to get a resolution on this shortly,” he said.
A Manila court ordered the private importers in 2016 to ship the waste back to Canada. Of 103 shipping containers that entered the Philippines, the waste from 34 has been disposed of locally.
Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrerro has said ” bureaucratic red tape” in Canada slowed the return of the rest.
Trudeau said in 2017 that regulations preventing the return of the garbage had been resolved.
Last year, Duterte ordered the cancellation of a multimillion-dollar agreement to buy 16 helicopters from Canada after its government decided to review the deal due to concerns the Philippine military might use the aircraft in counterinsurgency assaults. With a background report from Associated Press.
(Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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