MANILA: The Philippines will ban the shipment of garbage into the country following a bitter dispute between President Rodrigo Duterte and Canada over tons of waste sent to the island nation.
Duterte has given Canada until May 15 to take back 100 shipping containers of garbage that he says were illegally shipped and dumped in the country between 2013 and 2014.
Canada has said the shipment was a commercial transaction and was not backed by its government.
The Philippines government announced the ban on garbage shipments on Tuesday.
Earlier, Duterte’s spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, told a press briefing that if Canada was reluctant to take back the waste, “then we will be shipping it out and throwing it on the shores or beaches of Canada.”
However, he said that the North American country appeared willing to take back the trash and pay for the costs of shipping.
In a Philippines Cabinet meeting on Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Environment and Natural Resources “noted that the Canadian government is committed to shouldering all the expenses to ship out the waste containers,” an official said.
Duterte maintained his stance that the Philippines is not a dumping site and ordered the Bureau of Customs to refuse entry to garbage shipments.
“The president is firm that we are not garbage collectors. The Philippines will no longer accept waste from any country,” Panelo announced.
Duterte earlier berated Canada over the long-standing waste dispute. “I cannot understand why they are making us a dump site,” he said in a speech last month.
He then threatened to declare war on Canada because of the issue. But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana dismissed the threat as “just a figure of speech to dramatize his extreme displeasure.”