Philippines recalls ambassador to Canada over garbage row

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 16 2019 09:00 AM | Updated as of May 16 2019 01:35 PM

The Department of Foreign Affairs has ordered the recall of the Philippine ambassador and consuls to Canada after the Canadian government missed a May 15 deadline to take back tons of trash mistakenly sent to the Philippines several years ago. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Philippines will maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada "until its garbage is ship bound there." 

"At midnight last night, letters for the recall of our ambassador and consuls to Canada went out. They are expected here in a day or so. Canada missed the May 15 deadline, he said in a Twitter post Thursday.

Locsin said the Philippines decided to diminish its diplomatic presence after Canadian authorities failed to show up at a meeting with Customs officials at the Japanese enthronement ceremony. 

"That the government may consider a 2 to 3 week delay DOES NOT EXTEND THE DEADLINE. Our diplomatic presence in Canada shall be de minimis," he added. 

President Duterte last month said he wanted the trash shipment from Canada returned to Ottawa's shores, even warning that the issue might spark a war. 

The President was referring to 103 containers of Canadian waste, consisting of household trash, plastic bottles and bags, newspapers, and used adult diapers, that arrived in Manila in batches from 2013 to 2014.

Trash from at least 26 containers have been buried in a Tarlac landfill.

The Canadian government has said it is working on resolving the dispute. It amended environmental laws in 2016 to set liability for private companies in such cases and to compel them to take back the waste.

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said in an emailed statement Wednesday that the country remained committed to taking back the trash for disposal.

“We have made an offer to repatriate this Canadian waste and continue to be closely engaged with the Philippines to resolve the outstanding details,” he wrote, “to ensure the shipment’s return to Canada as quickly as possible.” With New York Times