The Philippines recalled its ambassador and consuls to Canada after Ottawa missed a deadline to take back tons of unwanted trash that has been rotting near Manila for almost six years, the country's foreign secretary said Thursday. "And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there", he added.
Last month, President Duterte threatened to go to "war" with Canada if it will not immediately recall the garbage it shipped to the Philippines.
More than a hundred container vans from Canada arrived in batches at the Port of Manila from 2013 to 2014.
Initially declared to contain only plastic scraps, it was found to have non-recyclable plastics, household wastes and used adult diapers.
On the recall of Filipino envoys back to the Philippines, the Canadian Embassy in Manila has yet to respond as of posting.
Canada had earlier committed to take the trash back and even shoulder all expenses for it.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday that the government is open to delaying the shipment for one to three weeks because some documents are still being ironed out, as long as Canada pays for the storage fees.
Last month, he threatened to "declare war" on Canada if it did not take back the trash.
In his tough rant, Duterte called for boats to be prepared to ship back the containers, advising Ottawa to "prepare a grand reception", and suggesting that Canadians "eat it" if they want to.
When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Manila in 2015, shortly after he took office, he promised that a "Canadian solution" was in the works and that he would make legislative changes to ensure that such a thing could not happen again.
Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana later downplayed Duterte's war threats, saying the president was using a "figure of speech" to express his displeasure. "Canada missed the May 15 deadline".
The Philippines' decision to recall its representatives to Canada is a warning that diplomatic ties between the 2 nations may end over heaps of trash a private Canadian firm had illegally sent to Manila some 5 years ago. "At the Japanese enthronement ceremony, DOF (Department of Finance) told me that Canada did not show up at a meeting with Customs and that was the trigger", the foreign affairs chief said in a separate tweet.
"Canada and the Philippines continue to collaborate closely to resolve the issue", its embassy in Manila said.
That same year, Canada amended its own regulations around hazardous waste shipments to prevent a repeat of this.
However, Locsin said in another tweet this morning that he does not consider this an extension of the May 15 deadline.