Duterte orders 69 containers of garbage to return to Canada as the Philippines is not ‘garbage collector’
Ties between the Philippines and Canada have taken a turn for the worse over the issue.
Malaysia is not the only country in Southeast Asia that is taking steps to avoid becoming a dumping ground, in the wake of China’s ban on importing plastic waste.
Separately, the Philippines has also announced that it will ban any garbage export from foreign countries.
According to Xinhua News, a spokesperson for the President Rodrigo Duterte, Salvador Panelo, said on May 7, 2019:
“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.”
The Philippines caught in garbage spat with Canada
The statement came as part of a larger announcement by Duterte on a diplomatic spat between the Philippines and Canada over garbage, Xinhua further reported.
The spat emerged as a result of 103 containers of garbage being shipped to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014, under the declaration of recyclable scraps.
However, according to the Philippine Bureau of Customs, they discovered that the 69 containers of recyclables were contaminated with non-recyclable trash such as used adult diapers and kitchen scraps.
34 containers have since been disposed of.
For its part, Canada claimed that the waste shipment was a commercial deal with no consent from the government, Reuters reported.
Subsequently, on May 7, Duterte ordered the remaining 69 containers of trash to be shipped back to Canada by May 15, 2019.
Canada agreed and offered to pay for the logistics costs.
Duterte demands immediate action
However, Canada missed the deadline, which resulted in the Philippines recalling its diplomats from Canada on May 16.
According to the Reuters report on May 22, the Philippines does not find Canada proactive enough in solving this problem.
“The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nation.
Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously. The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dump site.”
According to Xinhua, Panelo stated that the Philippines will ship the containers of waste back to Canada, and pay for the shipping cost.
On the other hand, the Canadian government explained that it had already hired a logistics company to bring the waste back, but bureaucratic red tape has led to a delay in action.
The Canadians requested to extend the deadline until the end of June but the Philippines refused to give in, and insisted that it would ship the garbage to Canada immediately by itself.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) also reported on May 24 that the 69 containers of waste will be burned at a waste-to-energy incinerator in Burnaby, which is deemed as the most environmentally-friendly solution.
However, the Philippines continued its act of protest by banning all government officials and employees from making official trips to Canada on May 26.
Panelo added that the stance that the Philippines has taken remained firm:
“We maintain that these directives are consistent with our stance on the diminished diplomatic relations with Canada starting with the recall of our Ambassador and Consul-General in that country in light of Canada’s failure to retrieve its containers of garbage unlawfully shipped to the Philippines.”
Top image from Rodrigo Duterte Facebook