By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

MALACAÑANG on Thursday said the 70 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and the Philippines may come “to naught” if Canada fails to act immediately on President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s demand to pull out its trash shipped to the Philippines some five years ago.

The Palace also criticized the “vague” and “inappropriate” statement issued by the Embassy of Canada in Manila on Wednesday following Mr. Duterte’s remarks on Tuesday threatening to declare war on Canada.

For his part, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said in a message to reporters on Wednesday night that Mr. Duterte’s remarks were just a “figure of speech…to dramatize his extreme displeasure.”

“But if it were me, I would run after the importer of those garbage,” Mr. Lorenzana added.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo, in a statement on Thursday, said: “The Palace acknowledges Canada’s quick but vague statement in relation to PRRD’s April 23 remarks on the waste issue. We take note that its response is not appropriate to the strong statement we made against its throwing its garbage to our land.”

He added that the Philippine government’s stand against Canada’s “making our country a garbage bin of their waste is non-negotiable.”

“It cannot dilly-dally on its getting them back. It must retrieve them pronto or we throw them back to its shores.”

“Its offensive act cannot be countenanced and any further discussion on the matter is unwelcome and unnecessary. Not only has it not taken any decisive action on this arrant (sic) hostile demeanor, it has not likewise expressed regrets thereto,” Mr. Panelo said further.

The spokesman also said “the seventy years of diplomatic relations between the two countries will be put to naught if Canada will not act with dispatch and finality (on) the resolution of this undiplomatic episode to which we take outrage.”

“That it even considered performing such outlandish disposal of its garbage to an ally is dangerously disruptive of our bilateral relations,” he noted.

In a statement last Wednesday, the Canadian embassy in Manila said its government is “strongly committed to collaborating” with 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 also said “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.”

For his part, Defense Spokesperson Arsenio R. Andolong said in a phone patch interview, “(I)t is indeed ironic that they (Canada) harp (on) human rights yet they have no regard for the environment especially if it’s someone else’s backyard.” — with Vince Angelo C. Ferreras