Philippines recalls ambassador to Canada over garbage row

An environmental activist wear a mock container vans filled with garbage shipped from Canada as they hold a protest outside the Canadian embassy on May 7, 2015. (AP)
Updated 16 May 2019
0

Philippines recalls ambassador to Canada over garbage row

  • Philippines says trash was dumped illegally
  • Canada missed deadline to take back waste

MANILA, Philippines: The Philippines on Thursday said it was recalling its ambassador and consuls to Canada over a row about waste.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he ordered the recall after Canada missed a May 15 deadline to retrieve the trash, which the government says was illegally shipped and dumped in the country in 2013 and 2014.

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

The presidential palace previously said it could accept a “reasonable delay” in shipping out the Canadian garbage due to administrative requirements.

“That the government may consider a 2 or 3 week delay does not extend the deadline,” Locsin tweeted, explaining in a further post what had prompted him to issue the recall order. 

“At the Japanese enthronement ceremony, DOF (Department of Finance) informed me that Canada did not show up at a meeting with Customs and that was the trigger.”

A spokesman for the presidential palace, Salvador Panelo, said the recall was intended to put pressure on Canada.

He told media that Canada’s refusal to take back its garbage was “disruptive of our diplomatic relations.” 

“The recall shows that we are very serious in asking them to get back their garbage. Otherwise, we are going to sever our relations with them," Panelo said, adding there was no point in having bilateral relations if there was no sincerity on Canada’s part.

“What the Canadian authorities are saying is they are doing their best to bring back the garbage, but I can’t even understand because they can do that, if I were the prime minister (Justin Trudeau) that's easy to do," Panelo said.

“The president’s position is very clear. You should remove that, otherwise our relations are over.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs said there were 837,130 people in Canada of Filipino ethnic origin as of 2016.

Panelo said the garbage row would not affect Filipinos in Canada. “Whatever the consequence, this government will be protective of the interests of our countrymen in any part of the world.”
 


Trump sets $8bn-plus in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

Updated 26 May 2019
0

Trump sets $8bn-plus in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

  • Pompeo says US partners in Mideast need contracts to be completed to help deter Iran
  • Trump’s administration also announced that it was sending 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump, declaring a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, has swept aside objections from Congress to complete the sale of over $8 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan.

The Trump administration informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 military sales to the Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan, infuriating lawmakers by circumventing a long-standing precedent for congressional review of major weapons sales.

Members of Congress had been blocking sales of offensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for months.

Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, said they would object to such a plan, fearing that blowing through the “holds” process would eliminate Congress’ ability to check not just Trump but future presidents from selling weapons where they liked.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that US partners in the Middle East needed the contracts to be completed to help deter Iran, and that the decision to circumvent Congress was meant to be a “one-time event.”

In documents sent to Congress, Pompeo listed a wide range of products and services that would be provided to the countries. These include Raytheon precision-guided munitions (PGMs), support for Boeing Co. F-15 aircraft, and Javelin anti-tank missiles, which are made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Corp. 

Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad. Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Other companies that will benefit include General Electric, now cleared to sell engines for use in F-16 fighter jets operated by the UAE, and the US unit of French firm Thales, which was cleared to sell a fuzing system for Paveway IV precision-guided bombs to Britain and the UAE.

It will also likely be welcome news for Britain’s BAE Systems Plc and Europe’s Airbus, clearing the way for installation of Paveway laser-guided bombs on European-built Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets sold to Saudi Arabia, as well F-15 fighters built by Boeing.

In his memorandum justifying the emergency declaration, Pompeo listed years of actions by Iran. “Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad,” he wrote and cited “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Tehran.

Trump’s administration also announced that it was sending 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East, which it described as an effort to bolster defenses against Iran over what it sees as a threat of potential attack.

Members of Congress from both parties have worried that Trump is pushing toward war with Iran. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said the administration was responding to important needs from partners.

“This is about deterrence and it’s not about war,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.