Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte orders rubbish to be sent back to Canada

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte orders rubbish to be sent back to Canada

"The president's stance is as principled as it is uncompromising: The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nations", presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told a media briefing Wednesday.

The federal government has hired a private company to bring tonnes of mouldering Canadian garbage from the Philippines back to Canada after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he was ready to "declare war" over the trash dispute.

That's what's left of the 103 containers shipped by a private Canadian company to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014 and wrongly labelled as plastics for recycling. However, the containers, which arrived in Manila, turned out to be filled with household trash, among other things, instead.

That same year, Canada amended its own regulations around hazardous waste shipments to prevent a repeat of this situation.

"I think we have taken a big step with the announcement today and we are moving as quickly as we can, bearing in mind, you know, the need to take due care to get this resolved once and for all", Freeland said at an event in Regina. Responding to the warning, Canada reportedly finally offered to take back the containers.

"If Canada will not accept their trash, we will leave the same within its territorial waters or 12 nautical miles out to sea from the baseline of any of their country's shores".

In 2016, a court in the Philippines ordered the waste to be shipped back to Canada at the expense of the importer.

Canada has long argued the festering trash was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government.

In April, Duterte said that he would ship the garbage back to Canada even if it leads to war.

Canada had already agreed to take the rubbish back and the two countries were in the process of arranging the transfer.

Canada is shouldering the cost of the shipment but intends to try and go after the Canadian firm which shipped it - a company that has since gone out of business.

Duterte's moves have been the latest strain in Philippine relations with Canada under Duterte.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to her counterpart in the Philippines, foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin, following Duterte's decision to recall the Philippine ambassador.

Last year, Duterte ordered the military to cancel a $233-million United States deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada, after Ottawa expressed concern they could be used to fight rebels.

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