MANILA—Canadian Ambassador John Holmes on Monday credited close cooperation between the Philippine and Canadian governments in resolving the row over trash shipped to Manila.
In his remarks during the Canada Day reception hosted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Holmes acknowledged the role of Philippine officials led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. in providing support.
He described Locsin as “colorful, entertaining” and “extremely effective” in making sure everything went smoothly.
“The final resolution of the problem came about through tremendous cooperation between the government of the Philippines, the embassy and officials in Canada. It wouldn’t have happened without close cooperation," Holmes said.
“If our 2 countries can continue to work collaboratively as we did in resolving this matter imagine what we can do to enhance our trade, our investment and people to people contacts.”
He said “sustained effort from both sides” and “putting minds together for creative solutions” helped in resolving the issue.
“I think if both of us from the time I arrived let’s say 2016, let’s say from the time the prime minister was here in 2017, if both sides have really put their minds together to think creatively, I think we could have, as we did solve, the problem a bit earlier,” he said.
Asked if Canada will go after those responsible, he said it is an issue for a Philippine court.
“The Canadian company at the time exported legally so there’s no real legal issues in Canada,” Holmes said.
He thanked Locsin for helping resolve some issues, including one that could have prevented a scheduled fumigation due to the closure of the base on weekend because of a joint Philippine-American military training
“I phoned the secretary and I said what the heck we had the schedule all worked out help us out here. He said I am on it, I am on it. It turned out the fumigation team was back on the job on Saturday afternoon... that was very helpful,” he said.
Holmes described Philippine-Canadian relations as good “and can only get better.” He cited cooperation of the 2 countries in areas such as agriculture and transport.
“We are delighted with the statement coming out of the Palace that our relations are cordial... that’s such a diplomatic word... our relations are good and can only get better,” he said.
Locsin is expected to meet Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland during the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, Canada continues to advocate for media freedom and freedom of expression, co-hosting with UK a global conference on media freedom in London in July.
“Freedom of media, freedom of expressions are cornerstones of our democracy. Yet journalists are facing many challenges in simply doing their jobs, including the threat of intimidation and violence,” he said.—Report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News