International relations between the Philippines and Canada are for the most part warm and positive, with one point of exception. Back in 2013 the North American nation began delivering containers full of trash and potentially toxic waste to Subic port, ostensibly for local disposal. Both the government and Filipino citizens protested the attempt to use the country as a dumping ground, with both previous and incumbent administrations working to prevail on Canada to take back its garbage. Earlier this month they agreed to pay to have the waste shipped back to their territory, and the vessel to transport them is loading these same containers today.
ABS-CBN News reports that a container ship has made port at Subic and commenced to take on board the over 2,000 tons of trash from Canada, stored in 60 cargo containers, that had been deposited in the Philippines for near on six years already. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra noted that the shipping expenses for this vessel and others are to be paid by the Canadian government. The loading of containers will carry on through to this midnight of Friday, May 31, upon which the container ship will begin its journey across the Pacific to Canada.
An estimated $10 million will be shouldered by the national government in Ottawa, capital of Canada according to Guevarra. The destination port for the return of the waste-loaded containers will be Vancouver in British Columbia. Three shipping companies have volunteered their vessels for transporting the garbage: Maersk, Zim Integrated Shipping Services, and CMA-CGM Group. Justice Secretary Guevarra is overseeing the transfer as officer-in-charge of the Philippine government while President Rodrigo Duterte is in Japan this week. He is not expected back until the 31st by which time the cargo vessels will have already gone underway.
Friction between the Philippines and Canada has remained present since the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III until the present term of Rodrigo Duterte. Relations even threatened to deteriorate further when President Duterte took exception to criticism from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on account of the former’s ongoing drug war. This has shaped Duterte’s rhetoric as he exhorted Canada to take back their waste, threatening to simply dump them on Canadian beaches and even declaring war if the American ally did not either transport the garbage themselves or take up the expenses of the trip. An earlier Canadian proposal to have the toxic waste containers removed by June 30 next month was moved up to this week according to Foreign Affairs Secretary “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr.
Image courtesy of INQUIRER.net