Trash talk: Demand that Canada takes back garbage ‘non-negotiable’

Just one of the trash-filled containers exported to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014

President Duterte’s demand that Canada take back trash illegally exported to Manila “is non-negotiable”, a Malacañang spokesman has said.

Speaking today (Thursday, April 25) Salvador Panelo warned Canada that it would risk its decades-old diplomatic ties with the Philippines if it did not take its garbage back.

“Our stand against its making our country a garbage bin of their waste is non-negotiable. It can not dilly dally on its getting them back. It must retrieve them pronto or we throw them back to its shores,” he said in a statement.

“The 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries will be put to naught if Canada will not act with dispatch and finality the resolution of this undiplomatic episode to which we take outrage.”

The issue was raised this week when President Duterte threatened to declare war on Canada if it did not take the trash back. He said: “I’ll declare war against them, I will really return that, you’ll see, load it to a ship and advise Canada, I will advise Canada that your garbage, prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to.”

In response, the Canadian Embassy yesterday said it was “strongly committed” to work with the Philippines on the issue.

However, it did not say when it would take it back, prompting Panelo to describe the statement as “vague”.

“We take note that its response is not appropriate to the strong statement we made against its throwing its garbage to our land,” he said.

He said Canada’s failure to take back the trash six years after it was sent to the Philippine was “offensive”.

“Its offensive act cannot be countenanced and any further discussion on the matter is unwelcome and unnecessary,” he said.

He also slammed Canada for not apologising. “Not only has it not taken any decisive action on this arrant hostile demeanour, it has not likewise expressed regrets thereto.

“That it even considered performing such outlandish disposal of its garbage to an ally is dangerously disruptive of our bilateral relations,” he added.

Between 2013 to 2014, the Bureau of Customs intercepted a total of 103 shipping containers loaded with mixed garbage from Canada falsely declared as “recyclable scrap plastics”. At least 26 of these were dumped at a Tarlac landfill site.

Previously, Canada has insisted that the dumping was not backed by its and that it was a private transaction.

In 2016, the country amended its regulations around hazardous waste shipments to prevent such incidents from happening again.

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