By Roy Mabasa
Canada on Friday expressed disappointment over the decision of the Philippine government to recall its top diplomats posted in Canada over the waste issue.
In a statement issued by the Global Affairs Office in Ottawa, it said Canada will continue to closely engage with the Philippines to ensure a swift resolution of the issue pertaining to the re-shipment of the remaining 69 containers vans of garbage back to its port.
“Canada is 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,” Canada’s Global Affairs Office Spokesperson Brittany Fletcher said in the statement.
The Canadian government pointed out that it has repeatedly conveyed to the Philippines its commitment to “promptly ship and dispose of the Canadian waste in the Philippines.”
“We remain committed to finalizing these arrangements for the return of the waste to Canada,” it added.
Despite the diplomatic spat, Canada said it values its deep and longstanding relationship with Manila.
On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Tedoro Locsin Jr. announced that the Philippine government was recalling Ambassador Petronila Garcia and all the consuls posted in Canada in response to Canada’s failure to meet the May 15 deadline set by President Rodrigo Duterte to ship out the 69 container vans of garbage it illegally sent to Manila six years ago.
“At midnight last night, letters for the recall of our ambassador and consuls to Canada went out. They are expected here in a day or so. Canada missed the May 15 deadline. And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there,” Locsin Jr. said.
Between 2013 and 2014, Canadian exporter Chronic Plastics, Inc. shipped to the Philippines a total of 103 container vans filled with household trash that were illegally declared as recyclable plastics. About a third of all the containers with rotting trash were already disposed of in a landfill in Pampanga.
President Duterte lashed at the Canadian government for its failure to resolve the garbage issue and even threatened to go to “war” if Canada will not immediately ship back its trash.