By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

THE EMBASSY of Canada in Manila responded on Wednesday to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s warning that he would declare war on Canada if it will not pull out its trash shipped to the Philippines about five years ago.

The embassy said the governments of the Philippines and Canada have been “working to resolve the issue.”

“Canada is strongly committed to collaborating with the Government of the Philippines to resolve this issue and is aware of the court decision ordering the importer to ship the material back to Canada,” the embassy said in a statement.

It also noted that “a joint technical working group, consisting of officials from both countries, is examining the full spectrum of issues related to the removal of the waste with a view to a timely resolution.”

“In 2016, Canada amended its regulations around hazardous waste shipments to prevent such events from happening again. We are committed to working collaboratively with the Government of the Philippines to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way,” the embassy said.

The embassy also said both countries are celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relations this year.

“The relationship is built on strong people to people ties, our common interest in strengthening political, economic and cultural relations and in our mutual commitment to peace,” it said further.

Mr. Duterte made his remarks regarding the waste issue at the Provincial Capitol of Pampanga in San Fernando City last Tuesday during a situation briefing on last Monday’s earthquake as it affected Region III.

“‘Yung basura ng (The trash from) Canada, I want a boat prepared. I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail doon sa (to) Canada. Ibuhos ko ‘yang basura nila doon (I will dump their trash there),” he said.

He added: “I cannot understand why they are making us a dump site…. Well, not this time. Magka-away kami (We are enemies)… Eh ‘di ano. Awayin natin ang (We will fight) Canada. I will declare war against them. Kaya ‘man natin ‘yan sila (We can defeat Canada).”

For his part, Magdalo Representative Gary C. Alejano said in a statement: “Tama naman ang Pangulo na hindi tayo dump site ng Canada para tanggapin ang kanilang basurang iligal na pumasok dito sa bansa (The President is right in saying that we are not Canada’s dump site as to just accept their garbage that was illegally shipped to our country).”

“However, I can’t help but notice how the President finds it so easy to express outrage over Canada’s trash, but never when China infringes on our sovereignty and national interest,” the Otso Diretso senatorial candidate also said.

He said China and Canada “have both done something against our national interest.”

“[B]oth cases warrant an appropriate response from the government. I hope this administration stops making us look like fools with senseless theatric displays and just get to work already.”