By Roy Mabasa
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Friday ordered Filipino diplomats recalled from their diplomatic posts in Canada to go back shortly after the tons of Canadian waste were finally loaded into a ship, and left the Subic port en route to Vancouver.
In a social media post, Locsin also apologized to the recalled diplomats, led by Ambassador to Ottawa Petronila Garcia, and thanked the Canadian Embassy in Manila for their cooperation.
“To our recalled posts, get your flights back. Thanks and sorry for the trouble you went through to drive home a point. Arrivederci! And thank you Canada CDA Mucci,” he said.
The over 1,000 tons of Canadian trash shipped to the Philippines between 2013 to 2014, left Subic port on Friday morning onboard cargo vessel MV Bavarian.
Last April, President Duterte stepped up the pressure on Ottawa by issuing a May 15 deadline for the shipment of the waste back to Canada.
Duterte even threatened to go to “war” with Canada if the latter fails to retrieve the garbage left languishing in Philippine ports for almost six years.
Canada, however, missed the deadline, citing government red tape in the processing of documents.
In protest, the Duterte administration upped the ante by recalling the Philippine envoy and several other consular officials in Canada.
Meanwhile, environmental and cause-oriented groups all over the world have expressed relief after the 69 containers of trash were reshipped back Friday to Canada after languishing in the Philippines for six years.
In a joint statement, the EcoWaste Coalition, RightOnCanada and IPEN described the historic departure of the reeking garbage from the Port of Subic north of Manila as a “victory for the rule of law, morality and the environment.’’
“We feel jubilant that 69 containers of Canadian rubbish are now homeward bound after being stranded here for so long,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“The Philippines is not the world’s dumpsite. Never again shall we allow other countries to trash our dignity, our people’s health and the environment,” she added.
In 2013 and 2014, 103 containers of more than 2,400 tons of trash from Canada arrived in the Philippines which were declared as scrap plastics for recycling but actually contained plastics, household garbage, used adult diapers and electronic waste. (With a report from Chito Chavez)