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Canada to ship back its waste later this week says Philippine justice secretary

Christian Fernsby |
Canada will ship back on Thursday the tons of trash that it dumped in the Philippines from 2013, Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

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Guevarra said the shipment of 69 containers of waste from Subic Bay Freeport, north of Manila, back to Vancouver, Canada is estimated to cost 10 million pesos (roughly 191,321 U.S. dollars).

However, he did not say who will pay for the shipping fees.

An official of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority told Xinhua that the Canadian Embassy is sending a team to the Freeport north of Manila to oversee the shipment.

The source said loading of the containers will start at 4 p.m. on Thursday and is expected to be completed at around 1 a.m. on Friday.

The removal of the trash is expected to repair the ties between Manila and Ottawa strained by the garbage dispute.

The long-running waste dispute has already caused diminishing diplomatic relations between Manila and Ottawa during past years.

In 2013 and 2014, a Canadian company exported 103 containers labeled as recyclable plastics to two importers in the Philippines. The Philippine Bureau of Customs discovered the shipment contained a mixture of plastics, metals, and paper as well as household waste.

While the export of such material was allowed under Canadian regulations at the time, the import of mixed plastics and household waste is prohibited under Philippines regulations.

In 2016, courts in the Philippines ordered the importers to ship the containers back to Canada at their expense but the importers did not comply with the court order.

Only 69 of the 103 shipping containers are quarantined in ports in Manila and Subic Freeport. 34 of the containers were already disposed of.

The Philippines' recalled its ambassador and consuls generals in Canada after Ottawa failed to meet the May 15 deadline imposed by Manila.

Canada's inaction "outraged" Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, prompting him to order the immediate removal of the garbage even if Manila has to pay the cost of the shipment.

On May 22, Canada announced that it will remove the waste by the end of June, as the waste must be safely treated to meet Canadian safety and health requirements. Canada added it will pay the costs associated with the preparation, transfer, shipment, and disposal of the waste.

But Manila rejected the offer, stressing the need to speed up the shipment back to Canada.

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