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article imagePhilippines president prepared to go to war over Canada's trash

By Karen Graham     Apr 24, 2019 in Politics
Manila - On Tuesday, the president of the Philippines said if Canada doesn’t take back tons of trash within the next week he will “declare war” and ship the containers back himself.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is well known for his headline-grabbing word choices and controversial remarks, and this time, Canada is getting the full brunt of his ire, according to the Canadian press.
According to CNN Philippines, the country has filed several diplomatic protests with Canada over 103 containers holding 2,450 tons of trash that were shipped to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014.
"I want a boat prepared. I'll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out, or I will set sail doon sa Canada, ibuhos ko ýung basura Nila doon [I will dump their trash there]. I cannot understand why they are making us a dump site," Duterte said during the situation briefing for the quakes which jolted Luzon and the Visayas.
“I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way,” he said. “Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to.”
The containers were shipped to the capital, Manila by a private Canadian company and its Philippines-based consignees, reports the BBC. However, when the containers arrived at the Manila International Container Port, they were found to be falsely labeled as containing plastic bottles for recycling when they actually contained everything from used adult diapers to other household trash.
Bales of crushed blue PET bottles and bales of various other plastics. In Olomouc  the Czech Republi...
Bales of crushed blue PET bottles and bales of various other plastics. In Olomouc, the Czech Republic.
Michal Maňas (CC BY 3.0)
The ongoing problem between Canada and the Philippines
The matter of the containers filled with garbage was brought to the attention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during visits to the Philippines in both 2015 and 2017. In 2015, Trudeau said Canada had no legal means to force the company to take back its garbage.
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. In 2018, the two countries formed a "working group" of officials to come up with a solution to the problem, but to date, nothing has been solved.
A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna sent a written statement - similar to one sent last week that mentions the working group and promises 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.
Kim also mentions a change in regulations initiated in 2016 that requires Canadian firms to get government approval before shipping waste if a country says it is hazardous. This change in regulations took place at the same time a court in the Philippines ordered the waste to be shipped back to Canada at the expense of the importer.
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