MANILA – Garbage containers from Canada that arrived in the Philippines six years ago will be sent back later this week, the Asian country’s department of foreign affairs confirmed on Tuesday.
The containers are scheduled to be shipped back on Thursday, bringing an end to a diplomatic conflict between Manila and Ottawa over the issue.
“All containers containing garbage cleaned and ready to go. Waiting for a couple of documents and routine permission from China for transshipment to Canada. Departure is May 30,” tweeted Filipino Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin.
Last week, the Canadian government agreed to take back the garbage by the end of June following repeated pressure from the Philippine government, and President Rodrigo Duterte even went as far as to threaten to declare war on the North American country.
On May 16, Manila recalled its ambassador and consuls in Canada in response to the expiry of the May 15 deadline it had given Ottawa to remove the garbage. On Sunday, it banned official trips to Canada for senior officials.
“If Canada will not accept the trash, we will leave the same within the territorial waters or 12 nautical miles out from the baseline of any of their country’s shores,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Wednesday last week.
A day later, Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced that Ottawa had contracted the firm Bollore Logistics to ship back 69 containers carrying 2,000 tons of garbage that had been exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014.
Over the last few years, the garbage dispute led to several diplomatic protests by the Philippines; the Canadian government, however, refused to act at the time, alleging that the garbage shipment was a private transaction that had not been endorsed by the government.
In 2013, the Philippine customs authorities confiscated some 100 unclaimed containers of waste that has continued to decompose in the ports since then.
Around 20 of these containers were transferred to a landfill in the city of Tarlac, in the north of Manila, as most of the waste was non-recyclable despite being marketed otherwise.
In recent weeks, other containers carrying garbage from Australia and Hong Kong have been found in Philippine ports, which the respective countries have been asked to take back.