President Rodrigo Duterte has given Canada one week to take back its garbage from the Philippines and said Manila would no longer accept any waste from any foreign country, Malacañang said Tuesday.
It made the statement even as Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrrero said the Philippines was prepared to return 69 container vans of garbage to Canada by May 15, but red tape in the Canadian government had slowed down the process of reexporting the trash back.
He said all requirements and preparations on the part of the Philippine government had been met to facilitate the reexport of the waste to Canada.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Duterte gave Canada a May 15 deadline to take back the trash it illegally shipped here.
“The President gave May 15 as the deadline,” Panelo told Palace reporters, adding Duterte made the decision during the 37th Cabinet meeting on Monday night.
“If they cannot get that, then we will be shipping them out and throw them to the shores or beach of Canada,” Panelo said.
He said the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had already relayed Canada’s offer to “shoulder all the expenses to ship out all the 69 waste containers.
“The President is firm that we are not garbage collectors. Thus he ordered that the Philippines will no longer accept any waste from any country.”
Panelo said deadline came after Duterte threatened Canada’s military might over the issue.
Panelo said the previous threat to engage Ottawa in a war was merely a figure of speech, but Duterte was serious about returning Canada’s garbage.
In a speech two weeks ago, Duterte warned that he would sail to Canada to drop the waste in Ottawa’s beaches. He also threatened to dump Canada’s trash in front of the Canadian Embassy in Makati.
Over the weekend, the Canadian government offered to retrieve its garbage that has been decaying in Manila’s ports since 2013.
Canada’s environment department said its government “remains committed to working with the Government of the Philippines and has made an offer to repatriate this Canadian waste.
“Canada hopes to finalize an agreement with the Philippines shortly to return the waste to Canada for appropriate disposal,” Environment and Climate Change Canada told CNN Philippines.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. previously said the two countries were already in “delicate negotiations.”
Since 2013, at least 100 container vans arrived in Manila from Canada containing plastic scrap materials, household trash, plastic bottles, plastic bags, newspapers and used adult diapers.