MANILA - Canada is committed to take back its garbage shipped to Manila five years ago, its envoy said Wednesday, after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to declare war against Ottawa over the incident.
Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines John Holmes said the two countries were already working on the possible return of the garbage shipped to the Philippines even before Duterte issued his warning.
Holmes said a working group was established to resolve the problem, which has strained the relations of the two countries.
He said a Filipino contingent went to Canada just two months ago to meet with officials from the environment department and foreign ministry to discuss the matter.
“That’s why frankly I was surprised by the comments because we are working closely with the government of the Philippines to resolve this issue,” Holmes said.
Holmes said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed numerous times to resolve the issue in partnership with the government of the Philippines.
“I won’t comment on the specific words of the President or his tone but I will say this. Our Prime Minister committed and has recommitted to resolving this issue, including taking the waste back to Canada,” Holmes said.
“He said that on numerous occasions but he can only do that in partnership with the government of Philippines.”
Declining to give further details on the meeting between Filipino and Canadian officials, Holmes said there was “a good exchange of information” and “there was an agreement that both sides need to do more homework on how to get it done and there was an agreement that we will continue to work closely and expeditiously, together.”
Holmes said Canada could not say on when the garbage shipment will be taken, but he stressed that Ottawa is “committed to allowing those containers to be brought back to Canada as per our international commitments.”
A total of 103 containers of Canadian waste, consisting of household trash, plastic bottles and bags, newspapers, and used adult diapers, arrived in Manila in batches from 2013 to 2014.
Trash from at least 26 containers (out of the 103) have already been buried in a Tarlac landfill.
Chronic Plastics Inc., the Valenzuela-based consignee, was accused of violating Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the 1995 Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Disposal.
The garbage was declared as plastic scraps.