MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Philippines has recalled on Wednesday, May 15, its ambassador and consuls to Canada after the Canadian government failed to begin shipping back its garbage which was dumped here back in 2013.
This was announced by Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr through a tweet on Thursday morning, May 16.
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. Canada missed the May 15 deadline. And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there. — Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) May 15, 2019
“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,” he said.
“Canada missed the May 15 deadline. And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there,” he continued.
This is the week when Philippine ambassadors are scheduled to return to the country as they bring the votes of overseas voters to the Commission on Elections.
Among the ambassadors spotted at the Philippine International Convention Center on Wednesday, May 15, were Ambassador to Malaysia Charles Jose and Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial.
On Wednesday, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made no mention of any plans to recall diplomats in Canada when he spoke of updates about the shipping back of the smuggled trash.
“According to the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs), there might be a slight delay because of processing, documents are being prepared so it might take a little longer. The important thing is, they are taking it,” he had told reporters.
Panelo had then surmised that the shipment of the trash might begin in "one to two weeks."
That the government may consider a 2 to 3 week delay DOES NOT EXTEND THE DEADLINE. Our diplomatic presence in Canada shall be de minimis. At the Japanese enthronement ceremony, DOF informed me that Canada did not show up at a meeting with Customs and that was the trigger. — Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) May 16, 2019
In a news briefing on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the action of the government showed its intent to get Canada to retrieve its trash.
Panelo reiterated the President’s position that Canada’s failure to do so would mean the “end of our relations.”
“That recall shows that we are very serious in asking to get back their garbage. Otherwise, we’re going to sever relations with them,” he said.
Panelo added that the recall order is meant “to persuade them [Canada] to make it fast.”
“The more they delay, the more personnel will be coming back,” he said.
When asked, Panelo said he was not aware of the reason for the delay. He also expressed confidence that the Philippine government’s actions would not have any adverse effects on Filipinos in Canada.
Last April 23, Duterte threatened “war” against Canada if they did remove the container vans of garbage from the Philippines. He also threatened to send back the garbage himself. – With a report from Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.