MANILA, Philippines: The Philippines on Thursday said it was recalling its ambassador and consuls to Canada over a row about waste.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he ordered the recall after Canada missed a May 15 deadline to retrieve the trash, which the government says was illegally shipped and dumped in the country in 2013 and 2014.
“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,” Locsin tweeted. “Canada missed the May 15 deadline. And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”
The presidential palace previously said it could accept a “reasonable delay” in shipping out the Canadian garbage due to administrative requirements.
“That the government may consider a 2 or 3 week delay does not extend the deadline,” Locsin tweeted, explaining in a further post what had prompted him to issue the recall order.
“At the Japanese enthronement ceremony, DOF (Department of Finance) informed me that Canada did not show up at a meeting with Customs and that was the trigger.”
A spokesman for the presidential palace, Salvador Panelo, said the recall was intended to put pressure on Canada.
He told media that Canada’s refusal to take back its garbage was “disruptive of our diplomatic relations.”
“The recall shows that we are very serious in asking them to get back their garbage. Otherwise, we are going to sever our relations with them," Panelo said, adding there was no point in having bilateral relations if there was no sincerity on Canada’s part.
“What the Canadian authorities are saying is they are doing their best to bring back the garbage, but I can’t even understand because they can do that, if I were the prime minister (Justin Trudeau) that's easy to do," Panelo said.
“The president’s position is very clear. You should remove that, otherwise our relations are over.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs said there were 837,130 people in Canada of Filipino ethnic origin as of 2016.
Panelo said the garbage row would not affect Filipinos in Canada. “Whatever the consequence, this government will be protective of the interests of our countrymen in any part of the world.”