Envoy vows to protect Canada-PH relations

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

MANILA – Canadian Ambassador John Holmes has vowed to protect his country’s relations with the Philippines amid the brewing diplomatic rift over Ottawa’s exported garbage in Manila that resulted in the recall of Filipino envoys from the country.

“I cannot comment on the specifics of that issue. I just want to say that we have a good relationship with the Philippines and my job is to protect that relationship,” Holmes said in an interview in Makati on Thursday night.

“I’m confident that we will have excellent relations for a long time with our friends from the Philippines,” he added.

Asked if any Canadian representative has already met with Philippine authorities following the recall announcement on Thursday, Holmes also declined to comment.

Reporters, as of posting, were awaiting details from the Department of Foreign Affairs whether meetings have already been convened after Canada missed the deadline for the pullout of its waste on Wednesday.

Canadian Ambassador John Holmes speaks to reporters on the sidelines of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia celebration in Makati City. (PNA photo by Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

Although disappointed on the recall, Canada has reiterated commitments to closely engage the Philippines in coming up with “a swift resolution of this important issue.”

2019 marks the 70th anniversary of Canadian-Philippine diplomatic relations, which range from people-to-people cooperation, education, and trade.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, meanwhile, believes the recall of envoys would not result in the severing of ties with Canada and that trade ties between the two countries would “simply continue” since the garbage shipment is a “separate issue.” (PNA)

Canada misses trash shipment deadline; PH recalls Filipino envoys

MANILA — Filipino envoys posted in Canada were recalled after Ottawa missed the deadline on shipping out its garbage from Manila, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. bared Thursday morning.

“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 on his official Twitter account.

“Canada missed the May 15 deadline. And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there,” he added.

In a reception in Makati City on Tuesday, Locsin said the Department of Finance informed him that Canadian representatives did not show up in a meeting with the Customs and “that was the trigger”.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier warned that Canada’s disposal of its garbage is “dangerously disruptive” of Philippine-Canadian ties.

He, however, assured this did not mean that there would be cutting of ties between the two countries.

The Canadian Embassy has promised to “resolve the issue, including taking the waste back to Canada.”

On the recall of Filipino envoys back to the Philippines, the Canadian Embassy in Manila has yet to respond as of posting.

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.

Late in April, President Rodrigo R. Duterte gave Ottawa an ultimatum to take back its trash. A few days after, Locsin said the deadline is on May 15, 2019.

When asked to comment, Canadian Ambassador John Holmes back then declined to pinpoint the exact date. “No comment right now,” he said in an email to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on May 1.

Malacañang on May 7 said the Canadian government has committed to shoulder all the expenses of shipping out all 69 containers dumped in the Philippines in 2013. (PNA)

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.