Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

Philippines recalls envoy after Canada misses deadline to take home its trash

President Duterte set Canada a May 15 deadline to take back 100 shipping containers of rotting rubbish wrongly sent to Manila five years ago

This file photo taken on September 9, 2015, shows environmental activists rallying outside the Philippine Senate in Manila to demand that scores of containers filled with household rubbish be shipped back to Canada. AFP
This file photo taken on September 9, 2015, shows environmental activists rallying outside the Philippine Senate in Manila to demand that scores of containers filled with household rubbish be shipped back to Canada. AFP

The Philippines has recalled its ambassador to Canada in an escalation of a festering diplomatic row over tonnes of garbage shipped to Manila.

Ties have been deteriorating since a Canadian company sent around 100 shipping containers that included rotting rubbish wrongly labelled as recyclables to Philippine ports in 2013 and 2014.

Manila set a May 15 deadline for Canada to take the rotting trash back, after President Rodrigo Duterte berated Ottawa over the issue last month.

Canada has since said it is working to arrange for the containers' return, but has not said when exactly that might happen.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said letters recalling the ambassador and consuls to Canada have been sent and the diplomats would be in Manila "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," Mr Locsin wrote on Twitter.

Canada's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The garbage has strained ties between the two nations, which were already tested after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's questioned Mr Duterte's deadly drug crackdown.

Last year the Philippine president scrapped a $235 million military contract to buy 16 military helicopters from a Canada-based manufacturer after Ottawa put the deal under review because of the president's human rights record.

Philippine-Canadian ties have been strained. AFP
Philippine-Canadian ties have been strained. AFP

During a speech in April, Mr Duterte threatened to unilaterally ship the garbage back to Canada, saying "let's fight Canada. I will declare war against them."

Following the comments, Canada offered to repatriate the waste and the Philippines said Ottawa would shoulder the expense of disposal.

Manila's Bureau of Customs said last week the Philippines was ready to send back the waste but Canada needed several more weeks to prepare documentation.

Some 69 shipping containers of trash remain after 34 others have already been disposed of in the Philippines, the finance ministry said.

Updated: May 16, 2019 09:36 AM

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