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.”


Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

Visitors try out food at 'Bengaluru Aaharotsava', a 3-day vegetarian food festival, in Bangalore on October 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 46 min 29 sec ago

Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

  • This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party

NEW DELHI: India’s poor rating in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) has come in for sharp criticism, with the opposition calling it a “colossal failure of government policy.”
The GHI showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.
The index is designed to measure and track hunger at a global, regional, and national level. The report, which was released on Wednesday, was a joint effort between Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfe.
“This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party.
Thomas Isaac, finance minister in the southern state of Kerala, said: “The slide started with PM (Narendra) Modi’s ascension. In 2014 India was ranked 55. In 2017 it slipped to 100 and now to the levels of Niger and Sierra Leone. The majority of the world’s hungry now resides in India.”
The GHI score is based on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting (children below five who have a low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting, (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and child mortality, the mortality rate of children under the age of five.
“India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 percent, the highest for any country,” the report said. It added that, with a score of 30.3, India suffered from a level of hunger that was serious.

BACKGROUND

The Global Hunger Index showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.

International NGO Save the Children  said the government needed to focus on wasting and stunting. Other low- and middle-income countries in the world which are faring better have actually scored better than India in those two areas, it added.
“There are nearly 1.8 million children in the country who are wasting and for that we will need comprehensive interventions, including the provision of therapeutic foods for such children to be managed at a community level,” it told Arab News.
The NGO warned of serious social consequences, with wasting leading to impaired cognitive ability and poor learning outcomes. “Furthermore, for underweight and stunted girls, it invokes a vicious cycle whereby initial malnutrition with early child-bearing gets translated into poor reproductive health outcomes.”
Arab News contacted the Child and Family Welfare Ministry for comment but did not get a response.
Nepal ranks 73 in the index, Sri Lanka is placed at 66, Bangladesh is in 88th place, Myanmar is at the 69th spot and Pakistan ranks 94.
The GHI said these countries were also in the serious hunger category, but that their citizens fared better than India’s.