MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - The Philippines on Thursday prepared to return to Canada an illegal trash shipment that has strained ties between the two countries, as the ship tasked to transport the rubbish arrived at Subic Bay, officials said.
Over 60 containers of toxic waste will be loaded to the ship starting 5 p.m. Thursday and will leave the port by 12 midnight Friday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told ABS-CBN News.
Canada will shoulder the estimated P10-million shipment cost, he said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday night shared clips of the containers being loaded onto the ships.
President Rodrigo Duterte in April said he wanted the trash shipment returned to Canada and warned that the issue might spark a "war."
Earlier this month, the Philippines recalled its representatives to Canada and banned officials from traveling there after it missed a May 15 deadline to retrieve the garbage.
Malacañang, meanwhile, welcomed the looming return of the trash shipment to Canada and expressed hopes that Philippine-Canadian ties would normalize.
"Hopefully ganun kasi that triggered the disruptive relations," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters in Japan, where the president is on a working visit.
Apart from the garbage row, ties between Ottawa and Manila also soured after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2017 raised concerns over Duterte's drug war.
Last year, Duterte cancelled a $233-million military chopper deal with Canada.
-with a report from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News