Filipino President Duterte gives Canada one week to take trash back

In 2013 and 2014, a total of 103 shipping containers from Canada labelled as plastics arrived in the Philippines

The president of the Philippines says if Canada doesn’t take back tonnes of trash within the next week he will “declare war” and ship the containers back himself.

Filipino media outlets report that Rodrigo Duterte made threats Tuesday about dozens of shipping containers filled with Canadian household and electronic garbage that has been rotting in a port near Manila for nearly six years.

“I want a boat prepared,” Duterte said. ”I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail.”

Duterte, who is known for his combativeness, threatened to declare war on Canada if the issue isn’t resolved.

“I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way,” he said. ”Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to.”

In 2013 and 2014, a total of 103 shipping containers from Canada labelled as plastics arrived in the Philippines for recycling, but Filipino customs inspectors determined the containers were actually filled with debris from Canadian trash bins.

READ MORE: Canadian garbage rotting in Manila violates international law, lawyers say

Canada has been trying for nearly six years to convince the Philippines to dispose of the garbage there even though a Filipino court ordered the trash returned to Canada in 2016.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about the matter on trips to the Philippines in both 2015 and 2017. On the first visit he said Canada had no legal means to force the company that shipped the waste to take the trash back. In 2017 Trudeau said Canada was working very hard on a solution and that it was “theoretically” possible for Canada to take back the trash.

A year after that Canada and the Philippines formed a working group of officials to solve the issue, but nearly six months after that nothing has been resolved.

The Canadian government didn’t appear to be changing its tune following Duterte’s comments. A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna sent a written statement that is identical to the statement issued by a different spokeswoman last week, mentioning the working group and promising to work with the Philippines ”to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.”

“Canada is strongly committed to collaborating with the Philippines government to resolve this issue and is aware of the court decision ordering the importer to ship the material back to Canada,” wrote Sabrina Kim.

She also mentioned a change to regulations in 2016 meant to prevent such a thing from happening again. The change means Canadian firms will need to get approval to ship waste if the destination country says it is hazardous, even if Canadian officials don’t deem it to be so.

Last week, a legal opinion prepared by the Victoria-based Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation said Canada’s actions with the shipments violate multiple parts of the Basel Convention, a 30-year-old treaty that prevents countries from shipping hazardous waste to the developing world without the receiving country’s consent. The violations include inaccurately describing the contents of the containers, failing to take them back within 30 days of being notified of the hazard, and attempting to get the Philippines to take on the obligation for disposing of the waste.

Kathleen Ruff, founder of rightoncanada.ca, has been trying to get Canada to take back its trash and is incensed.

“It’s incredible to me that the Canadian government just dismisses the fact that it is breaking the law,” she said. ”I guess some people believe they are above the law and count on getting away with it.”

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crafty people

Homemade handicrafts among the goods for sale outside the Chemainus Public Market

Tent Island closed due to neglect and abuse from campers

Illegal campfires common on Penelakut Tribe reserve land

Investigators still hoping to solve 2015 Brown homicide case

Tips being sought into Penelakut Island woman’s death five years ago

Pointing lasers at aircraft despicable act

The consequences of those actions can be extremely serious

Harvest House food bank volunteers an efficient group

Many steps required in the process before clients receive food

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Cowichan RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

COVID-19 tests come back negative for remote First Nation

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Most Read