Canada trash sails from Philippines; envoys told to return

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Canada trash sails from Philippines; envoys told to return
MV Bavaria arrives at the New Container Terminal in Subic, Zambales last Thursday to bring 69 containers of trash back to Canada.
KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — As the ship carrying 69 containers of Canadian trash left Subic Port yesterday for its 20-day voyage to Vancouver, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. directed the Philippine diplomats recalled from Canada to return to their posts and accept his apology “for the trouble you went through to drive home a point.”

“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 (chargé d’affaires) Mucci,” Locsin said in a post on Twitter a few hours after the Liberian-flagged MV Bavaria departed the Subic Port with its cargo of some 1,000 tons of garbage.

The return of the country’s diplomats to Ottawa is expected to improve diplomatic ties between the two countries soured by the initial refusal of Canada to take back the garbage.

The 69 containers of trash – consisting of mixed wastes, including non-recyclable plastic, waste paper, household waste, electronic wastes, and used adult diapers – were loaded on the MV Bavaria at around 3 a.m. on Friday. The cargo ship left the New Container Terminal in Subic at 7:20 a.m.

A Filipino importer was said to have illegally facilitated the shipment to Manila of 100 containers of Canadian garbage – declared as recyclable scrap – between 2013 and 2014. Contents of 26 of the 100 containers were buried in a landfill in Tarlac.

“Baaaaaaaaa bye, as we say it,” Locsin said in another Twitter post, this time accompanied by a photo of MV Bavaria.

“I’m crying. I’m gonna miss it so. Never mind. Another Filipino will find a way to import another batch. Boohoohoo,” he said.

The country’s top diplomat also expressed his gratitude to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade for working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs in ensuring the prompt shipment of the Canadian trash.

“Awwwwwww. I’m gonna miss it so. I forgot to mention that without Tugade’s as usual forceful last minute intervention that garbage would still be on the dick…er, dock,” he said.

“Thank you Cimatu for getting up so early to get last minute okay from foreign transshipment points; and DENR guys for working side by side with my guys to get this done,” he said.

Locsin had ordered a news blackout of the Canadian trash’s departure and promised the public updates through his personal Twitter account.

He, however, praised enterprising journalists for finding a way to take pictures of the departing cargo ship by renting bancas or small boats so they could get close to the garbage-laden vessel in Subic Bay.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Wilma Eisma called the removal of the garbage “one proud moment for all Filipinos.” SBMA had documented the procedure for the re-shipment of the garbage. “We thank President Duterte for his decisive action that brought about a satisfactory conclusion to this sordid chapter in our history,” Eisma said.

Ottawa had failed to meet the May 15 deadline set by the Duterte administration to retrieve the trash, prompting Locsin to order the recall of Philippine Ambassador to Canada Petronilla Garcia as well as consuls.

Canada later vowed to accomplish the retrieval of trash by the end of June but the Philippine government insisted on a May 30 deadline.

Locsin had said Manila would maintain “diminished diplomatic presence” in Canada until the garbage makes its return voyage.

Vice President Leni Robredo had warned of possible implications of the Duterte government’s decision to recall its diplomats in Canada on almost a million Filipinos in the North American nation.

Based on latest data from the DFA, there are around 892,481 Filipinos in Canada. – With Ric Sapnu



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