Manila, April 24 (IANS) Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to “go to war” with Canada if the latter fails to remove tonnes of garbage from the country that was shipped here by a Canada-based company in 2013 and has since remained in a landfill in the city of Tarlac.
“We’ll declare war against them. Load the containers onto a ship, and I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to,” Duterte was quoted as saying by the official Philippines News Agency (PNA).
“I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail,” he said.
According to CNN Philippines, 103 containers holding 2,450 tonnes of trash were shipped to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014.
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.
The trash was declared illegal as the private Canada-based company responsible for shipping the cargo didn’t have import clearances. Some of the containers are still at the port of Manila, according to CNN.
The dispute led to several diplomatic protests in the Philippines but the Canadian government refused to act at the time, alleging that the garbage shipment was a private transaction not endorsed by the government.
In the face of Duterte’s threats, the Canadian Embassy in Manila on Wednesday “reiterated Ottawa’s commitment to resolve the issue of garbage shipped to the Philippines in 2013”, PNA reported.
“A joint technical working group, consisting of officials from both countries, is examining the full spectrum of issues related to the removal of the waste with a view to a timely resolution,” the Embassy said in a statement.
It said that “in 2016, Canada amended its regulations around hazardous waste shipments to prevent such events from happening again. We are committed to working collaboratively with the government of the Philippines to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.”