Palace warns of potential end of Philippines-Canada ties

MANILA. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a press briefing in Malacañang Thursday, May 16, 2019. (Screenshot from RTVM video)

THE Philippine government will not hesitate to sever diplomatic ties with Canada if it continues to ignore President Rodrigo Duterte's order to Ottawa to take back its heaps of garbage shipped to the Philippines six years ago, Malacañang said Thursday, May 16.

The stern warning came after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) ordered the recall of Philippine ambassador and consuls to Canada after the Canadian government missed the May 15 deadline to retrieve its garbage.

Formal relations between the Philippines and Canada started in 1949 when Ottawa established a trade mission to Manila. In 1972, the mission was upgraded into a diplomatic mission.

While Duterte is a "reasonable man," he is "very serious" in having Canadian waste repatriated to Ottawa, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

Panelo stressed that the DFA's decision to diminish the Philippines's presence in Canada indicates possible cutting of ties between Manila and Ottawa.

"That recall shows that we are very serious in asking them to get back their garbage. Otherwise, we're gonna sever relations with them," the Palace official said in a press conference.

"Alam mo, ang isang tao, may hangganan, 'di ba? Kung ang reason mo ay valid sa kanya, okay lang. Pero kung hindi naman valid, babaguhin niya ang desisyon niya. Hindi na siya magiging maunawain or understanding dahil binobola mo na siya," he added.

(Every person has a limit, hasn't he? If your reason is valid to the President, it's fine. But if it's not valid, he will have to come up with a decision. He will not be understanding because you're just making him fool.)

The Philippines has given Canada until May 15 to take back tons of trash dumped in the Philippines, but the Canadian government fails to comply with the deadline.

Around 103 container vans containing more than 2,000 tons of garbage arrived in the Philippines in batches from 2013 and 2014.

Chronic Plastics Incorporated, a private company in Canada, marked the waste as recyclable scrap but the Environment department found that the containers were full of adult diapers, household garbage, non-recyclable plastics, and other household trash.

On April 23, the President threatened to go to war, if Canada fails to take back the waste illegally dumped by Chronic Plastics Incorporated in the Philippines.

Canada's failure to heed the deadline prompted DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to order the recall of Philippine envoys to Canada.

Locsin, however, said the Philippines is still giving Canada "two to three weeks" to ship back its waste.

Panelo said the recall of ambassador and consuls to Canada was meant to encourage Ottawa to hasten its process of retrieving the garbage.

"The fact alone that Secretary Locsin has recalled our diplomats there shows that not only are we serious, we are already warning them, we're gonna sever diplomatic relations," the Palace official said.

"That order of the recall is to persuade them to make if fast. The more they delay, the more personal will be coming back," he added.

Canada is home to over 800,000 Filipinos, according to the data from the DFA.

Panelo guaranteed that the Philippines' potential cutting of ties with Canada would not have grave repercussions for Filipinos residing in the North American nation.

"Oh definitely. It goes without saying. We're always protective of the overseas workers," he said, when asked if the government will help Filipinos who may encounter problems in Canada.

"I don't think magkakaroon ng problema doon kasi 'yung mga nandoon naman eh legal at kailangan din nila ang mga overseas natin... Whatever the consequence, this government will be protective of the interest of our countrymen in any part of the world," he added.

(I don't think there will be a problem because those who are in Canada have legal documentation. And Canada needs our overseas workers. Whatever the consequence, this government will be protective of the interest of our countrymen in any part of the world.) (SunStar Philippines)


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