COMMUNICATIONS Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson on Thursday shared a blog post that misquoted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as saying that it was theoretically impossible to take back garbage that Canada had shipped to the Philippines.
The post by blogger NJ Nieto criticized Trudeau and carried a graphic of the prime minister saying, “Theoretically, it is impossible to get [the garbage] back... even if it originally came from Canada.”
But a video clip showed that Trudeau had actually said: “Even though it originally came from Canada, we had legal barriers and restrictions that prevented us from being able to take it back. Those regulations and those impediments have now been addressed, so it is now theoretically possible to get it back.”
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque refused to comment on the misquotation by the assistant secretary, saying he had no jurisdiction over the matter, which should be addressed, if at all, by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
Criticism of Trudeau has spiked after the President said he took it as a personal and official insult that the Canadian prime minister would bring up the issue of human rights when they spoke.
Nieto said in a mix of English and Filipino: “I’d rather have a crass and ‘unclassy’ president who gets things done. Photos of the handsome guy? They will be forgotten. But not the garbage rotting in our ports.”
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, a Duterte ally, said Trudeau’s raising of the human rights issue was “mere camouflage” to cover the dumping of Canadian garbage in the Philippines.
“He’s frank on human rights, but they’re not frank on garbage, right?” Sotto said.
Sotto was referring to the garbage shipped by Canadian companies to the Philippines in 2013.
In a media briefing at the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and Related Summits on Tuesday, Trudeau said he had committed to Duterte that Canada is working on a solution to the garbage issue.
“I know it has been a long-standing irritant and I committed to him [Duterte], and I’m happy to commit to all of you now that Canada is very much engaged in finding a solution on that,” Trudeau said.
He said legal barriers in Canada that prevented the country from taking the waste back had now been addressed, but said it was still unclear who would pay for the return.
“This is a private transaction that does not involve the government,” he said.
Trudeau has said that it is “theoretically possible” to take back the trash but their government has yet to determine who should shoulder the cost as the problem concerned private companies.
But Senator Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Senate committee on the environment, dismissed Trudeau’s assurances.
“Take the garbage back, pay for it. Enough with the gimmickry. Just take it back. It’s such a small matter and still he can’t commit to it,” Villar said in Filipino.
But Senator Gregorio Honasan said the garbage issue should not be a cause of a rift bettwen the Philippines and Canada.