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Duterte orders gov’t officials to ship trash back to Canada

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By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte has had enough of Canada’s inordinate delay to get back its trash as he ordered government agencies to look for a private shipping company that will ship the garbage back to the North American country.

Environmentalist groups led by Ecowaste Coalition stage protest outside the Embassy of Canada in Makati, May 21, 2019, to demand the immediate re-export of moldering Canadian garbage in Manila and Subic ports to its origin, stressing that Canada has the legal and moral responsibility to remove the dumped garbage. (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)

Environmentalist groups led by Ecowaste Coalition stage protest outside the Embassy of Canada in Makati, May 21, 2019, to demand the immediate re-export of moldering Canadian garbage in Manila and Subic ports to its origin, stressing that Canada has the legal and moral responsibility to remove the dumped garbage. (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Canada failed to meet the May 15 deadline to take back the trash they shipped to the country in 2013.

In an urgent press briefing in Malacañang, Panelo said that Duterte was upset about Canada’s “inordinate delay” in shipping back its garbage.

“We are extremely disappointed with Canada’s neither-here-nor-there pronouncements on the matter. Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously,” he said Wednesday.

“The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dump site,” he added.

As a result of the delay, Panelo said Duterte has instructed appropriate government offices to look for a private shipping company which would bring back Canada’s trash to the latter’s jurisdiction.

The Palace official added the government will shoulder all expenses, and will leave it in Canadian waters if the North American country would refuse to take it back.

“The government of the Philippines will shoulder all expenses and we do not mind,” Panelo said despite being unable to determine where to get the fund for the shipment of the garbage.

“If Canada will not accept the trash, we will leave the same within their territorial waters or 12 nautical miles out to sea from the baseline of any of their country’s shores,” he added.

Panelo said the shipping will be done “immediately,” stressing that the Filipinos will not allow themselves to be treated like a dump site.

“The President’s stand is principled as it is uncompromising. The Philippines is an independent, sovereign nation, must not be treated as trash by other foreign nations. We hope this message resonates well with other countries of the world,” he said.

“The deadline was May 15 and thereafter no word from it. Puro ganun eh (It’s been that way). I think we’re just given a runaround,” he added.

Meanwhile, while he is unsure if the Philippines is open to cutting ties with Canada, the President is already fed up on the matter.

“The President has already made his position. He, in fact, even said he would declare war. So it means na ganito siya ka-inis (he’s irritated),” he said.

“I think it is going to that direction if you read his pronouncements,” he added.

Meanwhile, Panelo said the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is investigating and looking into going after the private company which shipped the trash to the Philippines.

Last month, Duterte threatened to declare war against Canada if it did not get back the trash Canadian firms shipped to the Philippines almost six years ago. In 2013, a total of 55 container vans of garbage from Canada were discovered by Customs authorities in the Manila seaport. The shipments were allowed into the country because they were allegedly misdeclared as recyclable plastics.

“I cannot understand why they are making us a dumpsite, and that is not the only case on point. Papasunod-sunod ‘yan na pinapadala yung basura sa atin (They have been gradually shipping their garbage to us). Well, not this time. Magkaaway kami ng… (we are not in good terms),” Duterrte said.

“Eh, ‘di ano, awayin natin ang Canada. We’ll declare war against them, kaya man natin ‘yan sila (We can handle them),” he added.

Panelo earlier explained that Duterte’s threat against Canada was just a figure of speech.

In his visit to the Philippines in November 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to resolving the issue on his country’s garbage shipment to the Philippines. He explained that Canada was not able to collect the garbage back due to legal restrictions on the part of their country which he noted were already resolved.

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