By Roy Mabasa
Canada is now awaiting the Philippines’ response to its offer to repatriate the tons of rotting garbage that were illegally shipped to Manila almost six years ago.
“We’ve had a team that’s been working extremely hard, including from Environment and Climate Change Canada, to find a solution. I am not going to go into the details but there is a proposal on the table with the Philippines and we are hopeful we can come to a resolution,” Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna told reporters in Ottawa on Thursday.
If the Philippine government accepts the offer, it was reported that the more than 12 dozens of cargo containers filled with decaying garbage would reportedly be returned to Canada via Vancouver for proper disposal.
The Canadian federal official also admitted that the garbage issue has caused an “irritant” and a “problem” with its relationship with the Philippines.
McKenna, however, did not disclose the cost of bringing back the trash to Canada.
“This is a file we’ve certainly been working hard on for a long time — obviously an irritant in our relationship with the Philippines, but also a problem,” Catherine McKenna told reporters in Ottawa Thursday.
On April 23, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to “go to war” with Canada if it would not take back the tons of trash exported by a Canada-based company to Manila from 2013 to 2014.
“Eh di ano? Awayin natin ang Canada. We’ll declare war against them, kaya man natin sila. Isauli ko talaga ah tingnan mo (We’ll fight with Canada. We can take them down. I’ll return their trash just wait and see), Duterte said.
Initially declared as plastic scraps, the 103 containers turned out to be containing wastes from Canada such as household trash, plastic bottles and adult diapers.
The contents of some 26 out of the 103 containers have already been disposed of in a Tarlac landfill.
Early this week, Duterte ordered the Bureau of Customs to prepare a ship that would send the containers of garbage back to Canada not later than May 15.