PH to ship Canada's trash back, Duterte 'so upset'

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 22 2019 04:34 PM | Updated as of May 23 2019 03:09 AM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE)- President Rodrigo Duterte is "so upset" over Canada's delay in retrieving heaps of trash a private Canadian firm illegally dumped in Manila some 5 years ago, prompting the Philippines to shoulder the shipping of the exported garbage back.

"President 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. Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing Wednesday.

The President has already instructed the appropriate office to look for a private shipping firm to ship Canada's trash back to its shores, he said.

"The government of the Philippines will shoulder all expenses. And we do not mind," Panelo said.

He added that if Ottawa refuses to accept its garbage back then Manila would "leave the same within its territorial waters or 12 nautical miles out to sea from the baseline of any of their country's shores."

"The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dumpsite," Panelo said.

Last week, the Philippines' recalled its representatives to Canada after it missed a May 15 deadline to retrieve the garbage from Manila. Panelo described the move as a warning that diplomatic ties between the 2 nations may end.

Over 100 containers of Canadian waste, consisting of household trash, plastic bottles and bags, newspapers, and used adult diapers, arrived in Manila in batches between 2013 and 2014. The shipment was marked as recyclable scrap.

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

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

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

"The President's stance is principled as it is uncompromising: The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nations. We hope this message resonates well with the other countries of the world," Panelo said.

Canada maintained that the waste as a commercial transaction not backed by its government and has since offered to take it back.

“The Government of Canada remains committed to working with the Government of the Philippines and has made an offer to repatriate this Canadian waste. Canada and the Philippines continue to collaborate closely to resolve the issue,” its embassy in Manila said.

In a statement Wednesday, Canada said it had hired a company, Bollore Logistics Canada, "to safely bring the waste back to Canada as soon as possible," according to a government statement.

"The removal will be complete by the end of June, as the waste must be safely treated to meet Canadian safety and health requirements," the statement read. --With Reuters