Canada, Philippines ‘war’ on trash heats up

April 25, 2019
Canada trash

MALACANANG yesterday warned of a diplomatic fallout between the Philippines and Canada if the latter fails to act swiftly on Manila’s demand for Ottawa to take back tons of Canadian waste shipped to the Philippines.

In a strongly-worded statement, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo slammed Canada’s “vague” response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for Ottawa to remove the dozens of shipping containers filled with trash in one week or risk “war” with the Philippines.

The Canadian Embassy in Manila said on Wednesday that a joint technical working group, consisting of officials from both countries, is “examining the full spectrum of issues related to the removal of the waste with a view to a timely resolution.” Canada did not say when it will take back the trash.

“We take note that its response is not appropriate to the strong statement we made against its throwing its garbage to our land,” Panelo said.

“Our stand against its making our country a garbage bin of their waste is non-negotiable. It cannot dilly dally on it getting them back. It must retrieve them pronto or we throw them back to its shores.”

Panelo added that the dumping of Canadian waste was an “offensive act” that “cannot be countenanced and any further discussion on the matter is unwelcome and unnecessary.”

He said Canada has not even expressed regrets over the illegal garbage exports which arrived in batches at the port of Manila in 2013 and 2014. At least 26 containers were dumped on a Tarlac landfill.

“The 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries will be put to naught if Canada will not act with dispatch and finality on the resolution of this undiplomatic episode to which we take outrage,” Panelo said.

“That it even considered performing such outlandish disposal of its garbage to an ally is dangerously disruptive of our bilateral relations.”

Manila had previously conveyed its objection to the shipment to the Canadian government through diplomatic notes. Canada insisted the dumping was not backed by its government and that it was a private transaction.

In 2016, Canada amended its regulations around hazardous waste shipments to prevent such incidents from happening again.