The Philippines recalled its envoys to Canada after the Canadian government missed its May 15 deadline to take back more than a dozen container vans filled with garbage it left in Manila six years ago.
“At midnight last night, letters for the recall of our ambassador and consuls to Canada went out. They are expected here in a day or so,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said in a tweet on Thursday, May 16. “Canada missed the May 15 deadline. And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”
As many as 103 containers of Canadian waste—mostly household items, including plastic bottles, bags, and even used adult diapers—arrived in Manila from 2013 to 2014. The trash came from an Ontario-based company which mistakenly labeled the containers' contents as recyclable materials.
In 2016, A Manila court ordered that the garbage be shipped back to Canada at the expense of the importer. In 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he and Duterte discussed the “garbage problem.” “I am happy to commit to you all now that Canada is engaged to finding a solution to that,” Trudeau said in a press conference.
Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would go to war with Canada over the garbage dispute. “Load them on a ship… I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to.”
Following the comments, Canada issued a formal offer to repatriate the garbage and committed to pay for the shipping. But Canada has yet to pick up the container vans despite its previous statements.
It doesn’t help that Trudeau and Duterte hasn’t exactly been BFFs, unlike Duterte and Trump who hit it off pretty early on. Trudeau previously criticized Duterte’s war on drugs. In response, Duterte said Trudeau should "lay off" and said he wouldn't "answer to any other bullshit, especially [from] foreigners." Last year, Duterte cancelled a deal to purchase 16 helicopters worth $235 million from Canada after Trudeau’s government evaluated the deal over human rights concerns.
Aside from the thorny relationship between the two leaders, Locsin said that Canada’s negligence in meeting with Philippine representatives during the Japaneese enthronement ceremony last month also served as a factor in their move to recall Philippine officials from Canada.