By Roy Mabasa
Known for his scathing and oftentimes sarcastic social media posts, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has apparently switched to “mute” mode on Wednesday regarding the May 15 deadline set by President Rodrigo Duterte for Canada to ship back the tons of trash it mistakenly shipped to Manila several years ago.
This was contrary to the foreign affairs secretary’s earlier tweets where he strongly backed Duterte’s deadline for the Canadian government to ship out the remaining 69 containers of garbage back to its port.
Locsin even chided the Department of Finance (DoF) for saying that there may be some delays in sending back the trash to Canada due to alleged “bureaucratic red tape” on the part of the government in Ottawa.
“The deadline is May 15. Period. I don’t give two f__ks what DOF (Department of Finance) says,” Locsin said in a tweet on May 8.
Locsin had earlier insisted that the President was expecting the trash to be out of the country on the specified deadline.
“The President expects the garbage to be seaborne by May 15. That expectation will be met or else…,” Locsin said in another tweet also last week.
Locsin’s apparent loathing against the DoF statement on how to heed Duterte’s order was evident in a separate tweet he posted last week.
“This is what it felt like after DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) gave that 5-minute brilliant presentation at the Cabinet on the immense progress of Canada and DENR/DFA – DENR/DFA ha, not DOF – on the garbage reshipment problem only to get bitten. Even Customs rolled up its eyes at the comment,” he said.
On May 7, the DOF, in a statement, said that notwithstanding the Philippine government’s readiness to ship the garbage out to Canada, it might take “weeks” to do so due to documentation process on the Canadian side.
“Despite the Philippine government’s readiness to re-export the wastes, the Canadian government informed that it might take weeks for them to arrange the necessary documents from their end and that they might not meet the May 15 deadline,” the DoF said, quoting a report submitted by the Bureau of Customs to Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
Sources said the Bureau of Customs, an agency under the DoF, was reportedly told to cease from issuing any statement about the Canadian garbage issue.
The task of responding to media queries was reportedly delegated to the DFA. However, the DFA has yet to respond to media queries as of press time.
Between 2013 and 2014, Canadian exporter Chronic Plastics, Inc. illegally shipped some 103 container vans filled with household trash to a Manila port. The items in the containers were originally declared as recyclable plastics.
However, 34 of the containers with rotting trash were already disposed of in a landfill in Pampanga.
Last month, President Duterte threatened to wage a “war” against Canada if it will not recall the garbage it shipped to the Philippines some six years ago.