While the world has been focused on the ongoing U.S./China (and now U.S./Mexico) trade war, the final chapter in an ongoing, yet little covered garbage war between the Philippines and Canada looks to have begun.
A shipment of trash that has been causing strain between the two countries is finally heading back to Canada, 6 years after it arrived in the Philippines, according to Gulf News.
Wilma Eisma, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chair said: “Finally, the containers of garbage transported from Canada and stored at the Subic Bay Freeport for several years now have been pulled out as of today, May 31, 2019,”
69 total containers filled with trash were loaded onto the MV Bavaria, pictured below, and sent back to North America. The shipment was commissioned by Canada to take the cargo back to its point of origin.
“This is one proud moment for all Filipinos,” Eisma continued.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said: “The garbage is gone, good riddance. I am not interested in what the world thinks … Canada pulled all stops on this: seamless cooperation.”
Senator Panfilo Lacson said: “...we will await further developments on future garbage return expeditions to Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong and God knows where else.”
President Rodrigo Duterte had previously prohibited Philippine officials from travelling to Canada as a result of the disagreement over the trash. He had also downgraded the country's diplomatic presence in Canada. When the trash left port for Canada, Locsin withdrew an order for the recall of the Filipino ambassador and consuls to Canada.
“To our recalled posts, get your flights back. Thanks and sorry for the trouble you went through to drive home a point,” Locsin said.
Recall, earlier this month we highlighted the ongoing war between Duterte and Canada.
Canada had previously agreed to take the trash back, but was slow in making arrangements for its return. Duterte threatened to leave the trash in Canadian waters if Ottawa refused to take it back, according to Salvador Panelo, spokesman for the President.
Quoted by RT, Panelo had said Duterte was “upset” by Ottawa’s “inordinate delay” in shipping the garbage back after they missed a May 15 deadline to do so. Officials in the Philippines were even looking to hire a private shipping company to move the waste back to Canada, with Manilla bearing the expenses.
Duterte warned Canada to "prepare a grand reception" for the trash and said he didn't care what Canada did with it. He even suggested that Canadians could "eat it" if they wanted to.
Panelo said earlier this month: “Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously.” He continued, saying that the trash would be dumped in Canada's territorial waters, or 12 miles from the country's shore.
“The Philippines is an independent sovereign nation [and] must not be treated as trash by other foreign nations. We hope this message resonates well with other countries of the world,” Panelo concluded.
The containers had previously been listed as containing plastics intended for recycling, however, upon delivery, the shipment was found to contain newspapers, water bottles, diapers and other trash. Back in April, Duterte had said of the argument: "They have been sending their trash to us. Well, not this time. We will quarrel with each other. So what if we quarrel with Canada? We’ll declare war against them, we can beat them."