Philippines diplomatic relations with Canada at risk amid garbage dispute

President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivers a speech during the turnover rites of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at Camp Aguinaldo on Friday where he discussed historical facts which led to the Mindanao problem and other issues relating to peace and order and the campaign for change towards ending hostilities with the CPP-NPA, MILF and MNLF. (Photo by Marcelino Pascua/PCOO/photo)

A spokesman for Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte says 70 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and the Philippines is at risk if Canada doesn’t finally take back its trash.

Salvador Panelo tells media outlets in the Philippines in a statement that the close ties between the two countries “will be put to naught” if Canada doesn’t act immediately to take back more than six dozen shipping containers filled with Canadian garbage that have been sitting in a port near Manila for nearly six years.

After Duterte threatened to “declare war” on Canada if the garbage isn’t returned to Canada within a week, Canadian officials indicated for the first time that they are willing to bring the garbage back once some final negotiations with the Philippines occur.

Panelo called that response “quick but vague.”

Canada has tried repeatedly to get the Philippines to agree to dispose of the trash there but environmental activists on both sides of the ocean say the shipments violate an international law on waste dumping overseas and leaving it in the Philippines sets a bad precedent for breaking that law.

A coalition of Filipino environment groups that has been lobbying to get the trash returned since 2014, is planning a protest outside the Canadian Embassy in Manila on Monday.