Philippines plays down Duterte’s Canada ‘war’ threat

Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana addresses a recent meeting with US officials in Washington. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 April 2019

Philippines plays down Duterte’s Canada ‘war’ threat

  • Fury over illegally dumped trash; Canada taken aback by president’s strong words

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to go to war with Canada was just a “figure of speech” the country’s defense minister said, amid increasing anger in the southeast Asian nation over a garbage disposal issue.

Duterte told the Cabinet earlier this week that he had given Canada a deadline to take back tons of garbage that were illegally shipped and dumped in the Philippines in 2013 and 2014.

Previous reports said the waste was wrongly declared as scrap plastic intended for recycling, when it really contained household trash, used adult diapers, and electronic waste.

“I cannot understand why they are making us a dumpsite?” Duterte was reported to have said. “I will not allow that kind of s***. I will declare war against them. We can handle them anyway.”

But the country’s defense minister played down Duterte’s threat. “It's just a figure of speech to dramatize his extreme displeasure,” Delfin Lorenzana told reporters on Wednesday. “If it were me, I would run after the importer of this garbage,” he added.

Canada, for its part, appeared taken aback by Duterte’s displeasure.  

“Canada is strongly committed to collaborating with the government of the Philippines to resolve this issue and is aware of the court decision ordering the importer to ship the material back to Canada,” read a statement from the embassy in Manila. 

Shipments

“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.”

Canada amended its regulations on hazardous waste shipments to prevent such events from happening again. 

“We are committed to working collaboratively with the government of the Philippines to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.”

But its attempts to appease the Philippines, invoking “common interests” and “mutual commitments,” may not be enough.

“The 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries will be put to naught if Canada will not act with dispatch and finality the resolution of this undiplomatic episode to which we take outrage,” said presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, warning of a diplomatic fallout.

The presidential palace acknowledged “Canada's quick but vague statement” in response to Duterte’s comments on the waste issue, he added.

“We take note that its response is not appropriate to the strong statement we made against its throwing its garbage to our land,” he said, and emphasized that the Philippines’ stand against being treated as Canada’s waste disposal unit was non-negotiable.

“It cannot dilly dally ... It must retrieve them pronto or we throw them back to its shores. Its offensive act can not 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 hostile demeanour, it has not likewise expressed regrets thereto. That it (Canada) even considered performing such an outlandish disposal of its garbage to an ally is dangerously disruptive of our bilateral relations.”


Daesh-inspired attacks by inmates prompt UK prison terror review

Updated 18 sec ago

Daesh-inspired attacks by inmates prompt UK prison terror review

  • Prisoners accessed Daesh propaganda ahead of a knife attack on a prison officer
  • Experts warn that lives are at risk if the government does not change its strategy on terrorism in prison

 

LONDON: The British government has launched a review into the way terrorists are handled inside jails amid concerns that prison officers are at risk from Daesh-inspired terror attacks, according to The Independent.

The review comes after two inmates were jailed earlier this month for the attempted murder in January of a prison officer using improvised weapons and fake suicide vests — the latest of four terror attacks carried out by incarcerated or recently released prisoners in the past year.

The two men behind the January attacks accessed Daesh propaganda in jail. One assailant — Brusthom Ziamani — was known to be a terrorism risk after originally being jailed for plotting to behead a soldier.

His accomplice, Baz Hockton, was radicalized inside prison, where he was jailed for a series of random knife attacks.

The Ministry of Justice said it has safeguards in place to prevent and monitor extremism, but neither convict had raised concerns and Ziamani was about to be given a “certificate of achievement” for complying with a deradicalization program for eight months.

There are currently a record number of people in British prisons for terror offences, and three-quarters of those are categorized as Islamist extremists, 19 percent are far-right, with six percent categorized elsewhere.

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READ MORE: Jailed terrorists fake UK deradicalization schemes to gain early release: Report

Segregation plan defended after UK prison system dubbed ‘Harvard for radicals’

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Experts have warned that the planned review must lead to urgent action, or else risk the death of a prison officer at the hands of extremists.

Ian Acheson, a former prison governor who carried out the government’s 2016 review of Islamist extremism in jails, said he feared that a prison officer could be taken hostage and executed.

“I’m not at all satisfied from the evidence that we’ve seen that the prison service is on top of this problem,” he told The Independent. “We’ve come within millimeters of a prison officer being murdered by a terrorist in prison.

“Terrorism Act prisoners are very small in number but the harm they can cause to society is huge, and after countless failures of intelligence and security inside prisons we ought to have got on top of this now.

“There is something very wrong at the moment inside our high-security prisons and it would be deluded to suggest otherwise.”

A prison officer working in a high-security prison previously told The Independent that jails were being “run on chaos” and that staff did not have the capacity to monitor and tackle radicalization.

He said there was “no control” over extremist inmates in prison, adding: “I don’t see any end to the attacks whatsoever, those ones that come in with an extremist view leave with a stronger one.”