Published: Thu, May 16, 2019

PH recalls diplomats from Canada due to garbage mess

PH recalls diplomats from Canada due to garbage mess

The Philippine government had set a May 15 deadline for Canada to take back its garbage after President Rodrigo Duterte last month said he wanted the trash shipment returned to Ottawa's shores, even warning that the issue might spark a war.

On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Philippines has recalled its ambassador and consuls to Canada over the garbage row. "And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there", said Locsin in a post on Twitter.

Late in April, President Rodrigo R. Duterte gave Ottawa an ultimatum to take back its trash.

The consignments were labeled as containing plastics to be recycled in the Philippines, but were filled with diapers, newspapers and water bottles instead.

Panelo added that he does not expect these developments to affect overseas Filipino workers and migrants in Canada, noting that the Philippine government "will always be protective" of nationals.

Philippine officials say they were falsely declared by a private firm as recyclable plastic scraps and have asked Canada to take back the rubbish.

In his tough rant, Duterte called for boats to be prepared to ship back the containers, advising Ottawa to "prepare a grand reception", and suggesting that Canadians "eat it" if they want to.

Canada has since said it is working to arrange for the containers' return, but has not said when exactly that might happen.

Duterte frequently uses coarse language and hyperbole in speeches about opponents.

Last week, Salvador Panelo, a presidential spokesman, said the government of the Philippines had given Canada a May 15 deadline to remove the waste.

"That recall shows that we are very serious in asking them to get back their garbage".

Global Affairs Canada did not respond to a request for comment.

The volatile 74-year-old Duterte, known for his grandstanding and often hollow threats towards Western powers, has also said he would dump the trash in front of Canada's embassy in Manila.

That same year, Canada amended its own regulations around hazardous waste shipments to prevent a repeat of this.

Last month, the Pacific Centre for International Law and Litigation in British Columbia issued a legal opinion that said Canada had violated the convention because it inaccurately described the content of the containers and failed to take them back within 30 days of being notified of their contents.

"The stark contrast between South Korea's actions and Canada's indifference to its dumped waste has captured public attention and stoked anger at what is viewed as both disrespectful and illegal conduct by Canada", the letter said.

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