MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the immediate return of garbage containers to Canada after the North American country did not comply with a deadline to remove the waste it had sent six years ago.
The recent order by Duterte comes after the Philippines recalled its ambassador and consuls in Canada last week in response to the expiry of the May 15 deadline it had given Ottawa.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced on Wednesday that Duterte, who was “very upset” with Canada’s response, had ordered to look for a private contractor to take the garbage back to Canada at the expense of the Philippine government.
“If Canada will not accept the trash, we will leave the same within the territorial waters or 12 nautical miles out from the baseline of any of their country’s shores,” he said.
The garbage was initially declared to contain only plastic scraps but was later found to have non-recyclable plastics, household waste and used adult diapers.
Duterte has given several ultimatums to the Canadian government to remove the containers with some 2,000 tons of garbage in a landfill in the city of Tarlac, in the north of Manila, that it had shipped between 2013 and 2014.
Last month, he even went as far as threatening to declare war on Canada over the issue.
In response, the Canadian government agreed to take back the garbage and bear the transportation costs, although it has yet to take action in this regard so far.
Over the last few years, the garbage dispute has led to several diplomatic protests in the Philippines; the Canadian government, however, refused to act at the time, alleging that the garbage shipment was a private transaction that had not been endorsed by the government.
In 2016, Canada amended its regulations to prevent the dispatch of hazardous waste shipments and a Canadian court issued a resolution ordering the importing firm to re-send the garbage back at its own expense.