philippine diplomat
Her Excellency Ambassador Petronila Garcia in Ottawa, Ontario. Via @FilipinosInCanada

Philippines recalls diplomats in Canada over continuing trash debacle.

The Philippine Government has ordered the recall of its senior diplomatic staff over the continuing garbage situation in the Philippines.

This comes after the deadline for the Government of Canada to take back containers filled with garbage had passed.

Canadian businessman opens Philippine company to receive containers

Over 103 containers were shipped from Canada by Jim Makris, a Whitby, Ontario businessman who bought the containers sight unseen from a recycling firm in Vancouver. Makris thought he was buying recyclable plastics, which his company in the Philippines would then sort through and resell.

Makris owned the Canadian company which sent the containers to the Philippines and the Philippine company which was to receive them. Both companies were called Chronic Inc.

Apparently, the individuals who sold Makris the containers pulled a fast one on him, and filled it with garbage instead of the agreed upon plastics.

More than 103 containers ended up arriving in the Philippines and was held by port authorities in Manila and Subic for being misdeclared.

Makris ceased his Philippine operations, leaving his Philippine partners facing charges related to the importation of the containers.

After news broke out about the containers, environmental activists have been relentless in protesting the continuing presence of the containers in the Philippines.

With the Philippine company who was supposed to be the recipient of the containers was closed, the Philippine Government had no choice but to elevate the situation through diplomatic channels.

Philippine customs officials blames Government of Canada red tape for delay

The Philippine Government’s Bureau of Customs (BOC) commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero blamed the Government of Canada for the delay in returning the containers to Canada.

Out of the 103 containers that arrived from Canada, 34 had already been disposed of in the Philippines.

Strained diplomatic relations between Canada and the Philippines

It’s not the first time Duterte has put Canada in his crosshairs.

Duterte ordered the cancellation of a multimillion dollar deal to purchase 16 helicopters from Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Ltd., after concerns were raised by the Government of Canada about the helicopters being used for counter-insurgency operations against communist rebels.

Philippine President threatens war with Canada

Duterte stated that he was prepared to go to war if the Government of Canada would not take back the containers post haste.

“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 to Canada and pour their garbage there,” Duterte said.

Government of Canada responds to threats by Philippine President

The Government of Canada, through the Canadian Embassy in Manila issued a statement shortly after Duterte’s statements, stating that “is strongly committed to collaborating with the government of the Philippines to resolve this issue.”

It also said that it “is examining the full spectrum of issues related to the removal of the waste with a view to a timely resolution.”

DFA sends Letters of Recall to its senior diplomats in Canada

The Philippine Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. in a tweet said that the Philippines “shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”

The statement comes after the deadline of May 15 imposed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte passed. Duterte had threatened to use force and ship the containers back to Canada.

Letters of Recall from the DFA have already been sent to the Ambassadors and her Consul Generals in Canada.

Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo also released a statement saying “that recall shows that we are very serious in asking them to get back their garbage otherwise we’re gonna sever relations with them.”

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