Palace: Ban on official trips part of 'diminished ties' with Canada
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte chats with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN)-Canada 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center on November 14, 2017.
Presidential Photo/Rey Baniquet, file

Palace: Ban on official trips part of 'diminished ties' with Canada

Alexis Romero ( - May 26, 2019 - 1:41pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang's memorandum barring officials from traveling to Canada is in line with the administration's policy of reducing ties with Ottawa over the delay in the shipping out of garbage shipped to the Philippines by a Canadian company, the president's spokesman said Sunday.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently ordered officials to refrain from issuing travel authorities for official foreign trips to Canada.

The directive was meant to emphasize the seriousness of the Philippines' demands in relation to the containers of garbage that were "unlawfully" shipped to the Philippines, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in a memorandum dated May 20.

RELATED: Canada hires company to take back trash from Philippines by end of June

Agency heads were also ordered to reduce official interaction of their respective departments with representatives of the Canadian government. The directive took effect immediately and will remain in force "until further notice,” the memorandum read. 

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed that Medialdea issued the memorandum, which also covered heads of government-owned and controlled corporations and government financial institutions.

"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," Panelo said in a statement. 

Canada said on May 18 said it was "disappointed by this decision to recall the Philippines ambassador and consuls general.

"However, we will continue to closely engage with the Philippines to ensure a swift resolution of this important issue," Brittany Fletcher, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson,also said then.

The Philippines was the top source country for immigrants given permanent residency in Canada in 2015 (50,846) and in 2016 (41,791) , according to Canadian government data. It was second only to India in 2017, when 40,857 Filipinos were made permanent residents.

READ: Philippines insists on sending back trash to Canada first

Trash from Canada

A total of 103 containers filled with garbage from Canada were shipped to the Philippines six years ago in a private transaction between corporations. More than half or 69 containers are still in two major Philippine ports while the contents of 34 containers have been disposed of, according to Customs officials. 

Last month, Duterte ordered the Customs bureau to return to Canada containers of garbage sent to the Philippines and chided the North American country for supposedly turning the country into a dump site.

RELATED: Fact check: How likely can the Philippines beat Canada in war?

Duterte even threatened to go to war with Canada if the garbage is not shipped out of the Philippines but officials claimed the statement was a mere "figure of speech." 

Duterte gave Canada until May 15 to retrieve the trash but the deadline was not met, prompting the Philippines to recall its ambassador and consuls in Ottawa. 

Philippines: Wait is too long

Canada has announced a plan to hire a shipping vessel to ship out the garbage, a process that it said would be completed by the end of June. 

Philippine officials, however, rejected the offer, saying Duterte could not wait that long. 

“As a result of this offending delay, the president has instructed the appropriate office to look for a private shipping company which will bring back Canada’s trash to the latter’s jurisdiction. The government of the Philippines will shoulder all expenses. And we do not mind,” Panelo said in a press briefing last May 22. 

"If Canada (does) not accept the trash, we will leave the same within the territorial waters or 12 nautical miles out to sea from the baseline of any of their country’s shores. The president’s stance is principled as it is uncompromising," he added. 

RELATED: Duterte: Canada 'stupid' for raising rights concerns in helicopter deal

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