Philippines pulls out envoys in Canada after delay in trash shipment
One of the more than 100 shipping containers of trash sent by a private Canadian to Manila in 2013 and 2014.
Bureau of Customs, file
Philippines pulls out envoys in Canada after delay in trash shipment
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - May 16, 2019 - 8:50am

MANILA, Philippines (3rd update, 10 a.m.) — In an unprecedented move, the Philippines' top diplomat ordered the recall of the country's ambassador and consuls to Canada following the delay in the shipment of garbage back to the North American country.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Canada missed its May 15 deadline to ship back the remaining 69 containers of trash that it has dumped in the Philippines between 2013 and 2014.

The recall order is despite a large number of Filipinos residing and working in Canada. DFA data as of December 2017 showed that there are 892,481 Filipino workers in the North American country, equivalent to about 2.4% of its total population.

"At midnight last night, letters for the recall of our ambassador and consuls to Canada went out," Locsin tweeted Thursday morning.

Locsin said the Philippine envoys to Canada are expected to return to the country in a day.

The secretary added that the Philippines will maintain a "diminished diplomatic presence" in Canada until the garbage issue is sorted out.

According to Locsin, the government's consideration of a two- to a three-week delay of the shipment of containers of garbage does not extend the deadline.

What triggered Locsin to recall diplomats was Canada's absence in a supposed meeting with the Bureau of Customs.

"At the Japanese enthronement ceremony, [Department of Finance] informed me that Canada did not show up at a meeting with Customs and that was the trigger," Locsin said on Twitter.

Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to sail to Canada and "dump their trash there." 

"They have been sending their trash to us. Well, not this time. We will quarrel with each other. So what if we quarrel with Canada? We'll declare war against them, we can beat them," Duterte said in Pampanga.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier warned that Canada's disposal of garbage to the Philippines is "dangerously disruptive of our bilateral relations." This was in response to the statement of the Canadian Embassy that Ottawa has been working with Manila to address the waste issue "with a view to a timely resolution."

On May 1, Locsin tweeted that the waste sent to the Philippines six years ago will be shipped back to Canada in 15 days.

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