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Malacañang sees improved ties with Canada after garbage row

05:42 AM July 01, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang expects the diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Canada to revert from “trashy” to “cordial” after the transport of illegally dumped garbage back to Canada over the weekend.

A ship carrying 69 containers of waste mislabeled as plastic recyclables returned to Canada on Saturday from the Philippines, closing a chapter on a dispute that started in 2013 and sparked a diplomatic furor between Ottawa and Manila.

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“I guess it will be back to being cordial … That is what will happen now. It won’t be a ‘trashy’ relationship anymore,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in jest in an interview over dzIQ.

Asked as to when the diplomats will be sent back to Canada, the Palace said this was for the Department of Foreign Affairs to decide.

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Diplomatic dispute

“I guess, since the very reason for withdrawal was the problem of trash, since it’s now resolved, logically that will follow, that we will send back our diplomatic personnel to their posts,” Panelo said.

The waste containers became part of a diplomatic dispute between Manila and Ottawa, as President Duterte threatened Canada with war and withdrew top diplomats from Canada after Canada missed a May 15 deadline to take back the waste.

The conflict dates back to 2013 and 2014, when a Canadian company shipped containers mislabeled as recyclable plastics to the Philippines.

The shipment actually contained a mixture of paper, plastics, electronics and household waste, including kitchen trash and diapers, even though Philippine law prohibits imports of mixed plastics and household trash.

Some of the waste was disposed of in the Philippines, but much of it stewed in local ports for years.

The trash will be incinerated at a waste-to-energy facility, Canadian officials said.

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Plastic pollution

Waste disposal has emerged as a topic of political dispute between Southeast Asian countries and the developed world, with Malaysia in May becoming the latest to demand nations such as the United States, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Britain to take back 3,000 tons of plastic waste.

The government department Environment and Climate Change Canada told Reuters earlier this month that the government was in talks with Malaysia to recover the plastic waste that originated from Canada.

For years, China had received the bulk of scrap plastic from around the world, but closed its doors to foreign refuse last year in an effort to clean up its environment.

Huge quantities of plastic waste have since been redirected to Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia and, to a lesser degree, the Philippines.

In November 2016, Canada amended its regulations on waste disposal to prevent incidents like the one with the Philippines.

Canadian exporters now need a permit to export hazardous waste and can only obtain it if the other country consents to the import, Jenn Gearey, a spokesperson for the Canadian environment ministry, said via e-mail. —Reports from Julie M. Aurelio and the wires

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TAGS: Canadian trash, PH-Canada relations, Salvador Panelo
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