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‘Upset’ Duterte orders shipment of trash back to Canada even at PH expense

May 22, 2019

In this May 7, 2015, file photo, Filipino environmental activists wear a mock container vans filled with garbage to symbolize the 50 containers of waste that were shipped from Canada to the Philippines two years ago, as they hold a protest outside the Canadian embassy at the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines. AP PHOTO

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the shipping of garbage back to Canada at the Philippines’ expense, as he expressed dismay over the “inordinate delay” and Ottawa’s failure to reclaim tons of trash shipped to Manila about six years ago, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte directed concerned government officials to look for a private shipping company that would “immediately” bring back the waste to Canada.

“President Rodrigo Roa 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,” Panelo said during a press briefing.

“Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously. The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dumpsite. As a result of this offending delay, the President has instructed the appropriate office to look for a private shipping company which will bring back Canada’s trash to the latter’s jurisdiction,” he said.

The Palace official said that the Philippine government “will shoulder all expenses and we do not mind the same.”

“If Canada will not accept the trash, we will leave the same within the territorial waters or 12 nautical miles out to sea from the baseline of any of their country’s shores,” Panelo said.

“The President’s stance is principled as it is uncompromising. The Philippines is an independent sovereign nation [and] must not be treated as trash by other foreign nations. We hope this message resonates well with other countries of the world,” he said.

Asked about Duterte severing ties with Canada, Panelo said, “I think it is going to that direction if you read his pronouncements.”

Duterte said in April that he wanted the trash shipment from Canada returned, even warning that the issue may spark a war.

The President was referring to 103 containers of Canadian waste, consisting of household trash, plastic bottles and bags, newspapers, and used adult diapers, that arrived in Manila in batches from 2013 to 2014.

The Canadian government said it was working on resolving the dispute.

It amended environmental laws in 2016 to set liability for private companies in such cases and to compel them to take back the waste. CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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