A week after Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte threatened to “declare war” on Canada because of dozens of garbage containers near Manila, he has extended his deadline. Now, the firebrand leader says Canada has one more week before the Philippines dumps the trash on “Canada’s beautiful beaches.“
The diplomatic spat is all over 103 containers of garbage sitting in a port near Manila.
The containers arrived in Philippines in 2013 and 2014, and were inaccurately labelled as recycling. In reality, they contained trash. They were shipped by a Canadian firm and since then, the two countries have struggled to work out what to do with the waste, culminating in Duterte’s extravagant threat last week.
On Monday, spokesperson Salvador Panel confirmed the new deadline, according to local media:
“That’s true. He’s angry,” he said of his boss Duterte.
Panelo said that Duterte’s ultimatum last week — and his promise to declare war on Canada over the refuse — was a “figure of speech” and “an expression of outrage” rather than a serious threat. He did repeat, however, Duterte’s threat to ship the garbage back.
“I don’t think any country would want to trigger another world war because all of us will be annihilated,” Panelo said.
Nor will there be an end to the diplomatic relationship, Panelo said, as he answered questions from reporters about what would happen going forward.
PhilStar, an English-language newspaper based in Manila, reported that the Philippines Bureau of Customs had received orders to return the trash to Canada by May 15.
“Celebrate because your garbage is coming home,” the Philippine president said last week. “Eat it if you want to.” The containers apparently contain everything from electrical waste to adult diapers.
Twenty-six containers have already been dealt with, buried in a nearby landfill. But now, a working group of officials from both countries has been formed to figure out how to bring the rest back to Canada — without them being dumped off by the Philippines navy.
Environmental groups say Canada is in violation of the Basel Convention, which forbids developed countries from shipping garbage to developing states without their permission.
The Canadian Press reported Friday that John Holmes, the ambassador in the Philippines, said Canada is going to bring the trash back, but legal issues — including who will pay the cost of the transport and disposal — were holding up the process.
The flare up over the Canadian garbage comes soon after the South Korean government admitted in February that garbage shipped to the Philippines was actually illegal waste and not recyclables.
Those containers, shipped in 2018, are being returned to Korea now. 1,200 tons were shipped in February, with 5,100 remaining in the Philippines.
With files from the Canadian Press.