Asia Minute: Philippines and Canada Still Talking Trash

May 16, 2019

Garbage in Boracay
Credit Constantine Agustin / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

The Philippines has recalled its ambassador and all its consuls from Canada. The diplomatic flare-up doesn’t concern international politics — it’s based on a dispute over garbage.

The Philippines and Canada have had a running argument for the past six years about trash.

It all started with about a hundred shipping containers a Canadian company sent to the Philippines back in 2013. They were labelled “plastics for recycling,” but they were really household waste. 

You may recall that late last month, the President of the Philippines threatened to ship the garbage back to Canada himself.

Over the past several weeks, there seemed to be a breakthrough.

ABS-CBN News in the Philippines quotes a spokesman for Canada’s Foreign Minister as saying “we have made an offer to repatriate this Canadian waste and continue to be closely engaged with the Philippines to resolve the outstanding details.”

But early Thursday morning local time, the Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Philippines sent out a tweet saying Canada missed a May 15th deadline to take the trash back. And as a result, the secretary wrote that “we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”

There is one other point.

A spokesman for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told reporters late Wednesday that Canada should also pay a “storage fee” for the garbage as well as other penalties — or else, quote, “we will throw their trash back at them.”