Palace tells Canada: Take your trash back or risk diplomatic ties

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 25 2019 08:32 AM

Then Customs Commissioner Ariel Nepomuceno (2nd left) inspects on February 10, 2014 one of 50 container vans containing tons of garbage held at the container port in Manila. File photo

MANILA - Canada should take back heaps of trash illegally shipped to the Philippines immediately, otherwise it risks decades-old diplomatic ties with the Asian country, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Ottawa should recover its garbage from Manila “pronto” or else “we throw them back to its shores.”

“Our stand against its making our country a garbage bin of their waste is non-negotiable. It cannot dilly dally on its getting them back,” Panelo said in a statement.

“The 70 years of diplomatic relations between the 2 countries will be put to naught if Canada will not act with dispatch and finality the resolution of this undiplomatic episode to which we take outrage,” he added.

Canada on Wednesday affirmed its commitment to working with the Philippine government over the garbage problem after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to declare “war” over the issue.

“Awayin natin ang Canada. We’ll declare war against them, kaya man natin sila. Isauli ko talaga ah tingnan mo,” the President said Tuesday.

(We’ll fight with Canada. We can take them down. I’ll return their trash just wait and see.)

Duterte 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.

Trash from at least 26 containers have 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 misdeclared as plastic scraps.

Last year, a Manila court ordered a Canadian private importer to take back 50 garbage containers that allegedly contain toxic waste shipped to the Philippines.

"Canada is strongly committed to collaborating with the Government of the Philippines to resolve this issue," the Canadian Embassy said in a statement, adding that it is aware of the court decision.

Ottawa however has remained silent on President Duterte’s threat of “war.”

Panelo said the Palace recognizes Canada’s “quick but vague statement” on the issue but noted that it has not “taken any decisive action on this arrant hostile demeanor, it has not likewise expressed regrets thereto.”

“Its offensive act cannot be countenanced and any further discussion on the matter is unwelcome and unnecessary,” he said.

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