Philippines stands firm on May 15 deadline for Canada garbage

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  • The Philippines is not backing away from the deadline it set for Canada to take back the garbage dumped in the Philippines.

    Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. stood firm Tuesday (May 7) on the May 15 deadline given by President Rodrigo Duterte for Canada to have its trash shipped back to that country.

    “The President expects the garbage to be seaborne by May 15. That expectation will be met or else…,” Locsin said in a Twitter post.

    “The deadline is May 15. Period. I don’t give two f*cks what DOF (Department of Finance) says,” Locsin said in a separate tweet.

    Locsin’s remarks comes as a response to a news article on a statement issued by the DOF, which cited the report of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

    Guerrero said that “despite the Philippine government’s readiness to reexport the wastes, the Canadian government informed that it might take weeks for them to arrange the necessary documents from their end and that they might not meet the May 15 deadline.”

    In an tweet last May 1, Locsin said that the tons of waste illegally dumped to the Philippines from Canada several years ago “will be on ship in 15 days. No ifs or buts.”

    Last month, Duterte threatened war against Canada should it fail to take its trash back.

    Recently, Malacañang said that Canada will shoulder all the expenses in shipping out the tons of garbage it illegally sent to the Philippines

    “On the issue of garbage from Canada, the DFA and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources noted that the Canadian government is committed to shouldering all the expenses to ship out all the 69 waste containers,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement on May 7.

    Canada has agreed to take back 69 containers of garbage that were wrongly sent to the Philippines and will pay for their transport, according to media reports.

    A letter from Philippine Department of Finance said the return had been delayed due to “bureaucratic red tape in the Canadian government.”

    The containers – labeled as plastics to be recycled in Manila – were actually filled with diapers, newspapers and water bottles.

    A Philippine court ruled in 2016 that the garbage should be returned to Canada.

    “We have made an offer to repatriate this Canadian waste and continue to be closely engaged with the Philippines to resolve the outstanding details, including legal and regulatory issues,” said Guillaume Berube, a spokesman for the Canadian foreign ministry.

    The issue is not the only one to strain bilateral ties recently. Last year Duterte ordered the military to cancel a $233 million deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada, after Ottawa expressed concerns they could be used to fight rebels.

    In November 2017, Duterte criticized Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the end of a summit of Asian and Western nations for raising questions about his war on drugs.

    “This is a file we’ve certainly been working hard on for a long time — obviously an irritant in our relationship with the Philippines, but also a problem,” Canadian federal environment minister Catherine McKenna told reporters in Ottawa.

    “We’ve had a team that’s been working extremely hard, including from Environment and Climate Change Canada, to find a solution. I am not going to go into the details but there is a proposal on the table with the Philippines and we are hopeful we can come to a resolution.”

    McKenna said she would not “speculate” on where the garbage will go when it returns to Canada, nor would she disclose the cost of bringing the trash home.

    If the offer is accepted, the trash would return to Canada through the port of Vancouver before disposal.

    “I will declare war against them,” Duterte said last month. “I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to … your garbage is coming home.”

    Canada is a party to the UN Basel Convention, which is meant to reduce transfers of hazardous waste to developing nations without their consent.

    In 2016, Canada strengthened its regulations around hazardous waste shipments to include the obligation to take back waste shipments that cannot be completed as planned.

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