Philippines' Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

Clay Curtis
May 23, 2019

The garbage's removal "will be complete by the end of June, as the waste must be safely treated to meet Canadian safety and health requirements", said Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

The government has hired a private Canadian shipping company to handle the operation.

But Canada missed a May 15 deadline set by Manila to take back the shipment, prompting the Philippines to withdraw top diplomats from Canada last week.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Canadian waste shipped back to its country of origin, his spokesman says. However, it didn't require that Canada take back its trash.

In 2016, a Philippine court ruled that the garbage should be returned to Canada, but the process had not been launched until now.

The trash was sent to the Philippines by a private Canadian company in 2013 and 2014 and was improperly labelled as plastics for recycling.

"Canada values its deep and long-standing relationship with the Philippines and has been working closely with Filipino authorities to find a solution that is mutually acceptable", she said in a statement.

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"The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nation", Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told a media briefing.

At least 103 containers of household trash, including plastic bottles and bags, newspapers and diapers, were shipped in batches from Canada to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014.

Malacañang also slammed Canada's seeming inaction over the garbage issue. Although 34 of the containers were disposed of, the others were left in Manila while the governments of the two countries disagreed on how the issue should be handled.

McKenna says the government has awarded a contract to a shipping company, Bollore Logistics Canada, that will return 69 containers filled with household waste and electronic garbage.

The president has warned that if Canada does not comply, the Philippines will dump the garbage on Canadian shores themselves.

More than five years of talks between Canada and the Philippines to deal with the trash went nowhere until last month, when Duterte threatened war and said he would ship the garbage back to Canada himself. Last year, Duterte ordered the cancellation of a multimillion-dollar agreement to buy 16 helicopters from Canada after its government made a decision to review the deal due to concerns that the Philippine military might use the aircraft in counterinsurgency assaults.

"I was pleased to speak with my counterpart Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin last week to reiterate Canada's firm commitment to promptly repatriate the waste to Canada", said Ms. Freeland in a statement.

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