Recall of Philippine envoy to Canada gets approval at home

Protesters stage a rallly outside the Canadian Embassy in Manila demanding Canada take back tons of rubbish it had sent to the Philippines. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 17 May 2019
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Recall of Philippine envoy to Canada gets approval at home

  • Legislators throw their support behind decision of Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Canada expressed disappointment over the DFA’s decision to recall the Philippine ambassador to Manila

MANILA: Philippine legislators on Friday threw their support behind the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) decision to recall the Filipino ambassador to Canada over a garbage row.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in a text message to reporters, said “it was the right thing to do under the circumstances,” adding that “national dignity is part and parcel of diplomacy.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. on Thursday ordered the pullout of the Philippine ambassador and consuls general to Canada after the North American country failed to meet the May 15 deadline to retrieve the garbage it had illegally shipped to Manila in 2013 and 2014.

According to Lacson, “to allow the country to be a regular dumping ground of toxic garbage by another country smacks of arrogance, aside from the health hazards that it brings to our people.”

But for the senator, to recall the country’s representatives to Ottawa is not enough. He cited the need to go after those who were responsible for bringing more than 100 containers of household trash, including soiled bags and diapers, into the country.

“Let’s find out who facilitated this so we can dump them at sea halfway to Canada,” Lacson said.

Sen. Loren Legarda, chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, also commended the government’s strong resolve to send the Canadian rubbish back to where it came from.

“This is a reminder to other countries that the Philippines is not their dumping site,” Legarda said in an emailed statement.

“Solid waste management should be enforced within each country and within their communities. With our strong political will and even stronger cooperation among groups and advocates, we will remain vigilant in safeguarding any threats against our environment and health,” she continued.

The senator stressed “it is unacceptable that six years after these containers containing garbage were shipped to Philippine shores, and despite assurances from the Canadian government to help remove them, their waste is still here, posing significant health and environment risks in our country.”

In 2015, Legarda, who was then chair of the Senate committee on environment, led a Senate hearing on the issue, where she said that “taking back their waste is the only option.”

The senator noted that Canada is a signatory to the Basel Convention, so as part of their commitment to the Convention they should take back their waste.

Canada expressed disappointment over the DFA’s decision to recall the Philippine ambassador to Manila. It vowed to work closely with the Philippines in coming up with a “swift resolution” to the waste issue.

“Canada is disappointed by this decision to recall the Philippines ambassador and consuls general. However, we will continue to closely engage with the Philippines to ensure a swift resolution of this important issue,” said Global Affairs Canada in a statement.

The statement reiterated that Canada values the deep and longstanding relationship with the Philippines.

“Canada has repeatedly conveyed to the Philippines government its commitment to promptly ship and dispose of the Canadian waste in the Philippines. We remain committed to finalizing these arrangements for the return of the waste to Canada,” it added.


Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

Updated 26 June 2019
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Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

  • But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues
  • The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India on Wednesday, promising a renewed focus on negotiating improved trade and investment ties between the two nations.
But Pompeo, on a visit to India, gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues ranging from access to Indian markets for leading American companies to New Delhi’s demands for foreign firms to store Indian data in the country, and exports of steel and aluminum to the United States.
The two nations are “friends who can help each other all around the world,” Pompeo told a joint news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after they met.
The current differences were expressed “in the spirit of friendship,” he added.
The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.
In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest US companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart last year invested $16 billion to buy control of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart.
Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.
Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, played down the spat on Wednesday.
“If you trade with someone and they are your biggest trading partner, it is impossible you don’t have trade issues,” he said.
India’s ties with Russia and Iran, both now subject to US sanctions, are also a sore point.
US pressure has led India to stop buying oil from Iran, a top energy supplier. The United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
The missile deal and Iranian oil were both discussed during their meeting, Jaishankar and Pompeo said, but mentioned no resolution of either at the news conference.
Earlier, Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks at his official residence in the capital, New Delhi, and they exchanged handshakes in images broadcast on television.
“The Prime Minister expressed his strong commitment to achieve the full potential of bilateral relations in trade and economy, energy, defense, counterterrorism and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.
Pompeo is expected to round off the trip with a policy speech hosted by the US embassy, before departing on Thursday for a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 nations in Japan.