May 26, 2019

Philippines withdraws top diplomats from Canada over trash row

16 May 2019, 11:27 | Glen Norman

Canada misses trash shipment deadline; PH recalls Filipino envoys

Philippines recalls its envoys in Canada over tons of rotting garbage

Foreign secretary of the South Asian nation, Teodoro Locsin Jr, wrote on Twitter that until the North American state takes back its trash, the Philippines "shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada".

"At midnight last night, letters for the recall of our ambassador and consuls to Canada went out", Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a tweet.

Earlier this month, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned Canada that he would ship out the trash and "throw them to the shores or beaches of Canada" if the garbage is not out by May 15.

A total of 103 container vans containing trash were shipped to Subic and Manila in several batches from 2013 to 2014.

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

"The Government of Canada remains committed to working with the Government of the Philippines and has made an offer to repatriate this Canadian waste".

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. They came from an Ontario-based company that declared the contents of the containers as recyclable materials, when they were actually waste like plastic bottles, bags, and used adult diapers.

"I want a boat prepared", Duterte said at a press conference, tapping a conference table in frustration, before providing suggestions on what Canada might do with the garbage once it arrives. "Eat it if you want to".

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During his visit to Manila in November 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Duterte that they were already "finding a solution" to the problem, pointing to "legal barriers" that blocked the immediate the re-exportation of the trash.

Duterte frequently uses coarse language and hyperbole in speeches about opponents. Officials later set a May 15 deadline for Canada to comply.

"That recall shows that we are very serious in asking them to get back their garbage".

The volatile 74-year-old Duterte, known for his grandstanding and often hollow threats towards Western powers, has also said he would dump the trash in front of Canada's embassy in Manila.

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Environmental groups in Canada and the Philippines say that Canada is violating the Basel Convention, an worldwide treaty that outlines rules around the regulation of hazardous materials and waste to prevent developed countries from dumping their trash in developing countries without their consent.

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