By Genalyn Kabiling
The Philippines has given Canada an extension of one to three weeks to retrieve its garbage but will ask them to pay for the storage cost of the decaying waste.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo announced the adjusted timeline after revealing the “slight delay” in the shipment of the Canadian waste due to the processing of certain documents.
President Duterte earlier wanted the tons of waste shipped back to Canada by May 15.
“Ang sabi ng DFA noon baka [The Department of Foreign Affairs said] there might be a slight delay because of certain documentation so kung slight delay naman [so if it’s a slight delay], the President is a very reasonable man. What is important they will take back their waste,” Panelo said during an interview with reporters at the Palace.
When asked how long the delay would take, Panelo said: “Siguro reasonable delay, baka naman one, two, three weeks. Ang importante kukunin na nila. Di kagaya noon, walang nangyayari. [Maybe it will be a reasonable delay, maybe about one, two, three weeks. The important thing is they will retrieve it. Unlike in the past, nothing happened].”
He noted that if the President had not given Canada a deadline on the garbage shipment, it would not have taken action.
So far, Panelo said Canada has expressed willingness to pay for the shipment of its garbage back to its country.
But the Palace official stressed that Canada should also shoulder the storage fees of the decaying waste. “They should pay for all of that,” he said.
An investigation will also be conducted on the possible violation committed by those behind the importation of the Canadian garbage to the country, according to Panelo.
“Sino ba nag-import? Basta lahat ng penalties, itatapon natin sa kanila [Who imported it? We will impose all penalties against them],” he said.
“Eh di paimbestigahana natin kung ano violation nila [We will order an investigation into their possible violation],” he said.
President Duterte recently threatened to go to war if Canada would not retrieve the tons of garbage shipped to the Philippines years ago. Duterte warned he would dump the garbage on Canada’s shores as he insisted that the country was not a dumpsite for foreign trash.
“The President is firm that we are not garbage collectors, thus he ordered that the Philippines will no longer accept any waste from any country,” Panelo said.
The Bureau of Customs earlier announced the country was reported to return 69 container vans of garbage to Canada by May 15 but the red tape in Canada has supposedly derailed the process.
According to Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the Canadian government claimed it might not meet the deadline since it will take weeks to arrange the documents such as import permits and bidding of fumigation services of the containers.
At least 103 container vans of garbage from Canada were originally dumped in the ports of Subic and Manila in 2013 and 2014. Thirty-four of the containers have already been disposed.