Philippine President Threatens ‘War’ On Garbage Row, Canada Seeks Resolution

President Rodrigo Duterte
In a sign of improving ties between the Philippines and China, Foreign Minister Wang Yi formally inaugurated a Chinese consulate in Davao City, Philippines.

(Photo: REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr.)

Canada has expressed its willingness to resolve the issue on a private importer dumping containers filled with garbage in the Philippines five years ago. The statement was released after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to "declare war" against the western country.

"Canada is strongly committed to collaborating with the Government of the Philippines to resolve the issue," the Canadian Embassy said in a statement, ABS-CBN News reported. The statement added that a joint team of Canadian and Filipino officials is in the processes of "examining the full spectrum of issues related to the removal of the waste."

The Canadian government previously said that it didn't have the authority to command a private importer to take back shipped containers. Duterte didn't take this response well. The Philippine president said on Tuesday that he is giving the shipper a week to take the garbage back.

"I cannot understand why they are making us a dumpsite," Duterte said. He added that he is willing to travel to Canada to return the waste shipment, adding that he will declare war against the country if it does not adhere to the deadline he requested.

From 2013 to 2014, a Manila port received 103 containers with 2,450 tons of waste from Canada. The waste materials ranged from plastic bags and bottles, household trash, newspapers, and used diapers.

While the containers were labeled as recyclable plastics, local inspectors later found out that the waste materials were not recyclable. Furthermore, the Canada-based shipper reportedly didn't have import clearances for the shipment.

Since it was discovered that the shipment was illegal, the Philippine government has been urging Canada to repatriate the containers. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously said he was eager to find a resolution to the issue.

Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines John Holmes said he was "surprised" after hearing the Philippine president's statements about the garbage row. He said a representative traveled to Ottawa two months ago to discuss the issue.

Holmes further explained that during the meeting two months ago, both sides agreed to work closely in finding a resolution so Canada can take the garbage back home. However, Holmes could not provide an exact timeline regarding the shipment's repatriation.

Meanwhile, some senatorial bets for this year's Philippine elections indicated that Duterte's war threat against Canada was intentionally exaggerated to push Canada to take action on the shipped garbage.

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel told GMA News Online that Duterte dropped those comments as a way of telling the Canadian government to take the matter seriously since the garbage issue has been "pending" for quite some time.

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