MANILA -- The recall of the Philippine envoys posted in Canada serves as a warning that refusal of the North American country to take its garbage back could risk disrupting relations between the two countries, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced that Philippine ambassadors and consuls to Canada have been recalled due to Ottawa’s failure to ship out its garbage from Manila within the May 15 deadline set by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Panelo explained the DFA was supposed to meet with Canadian authorities to discuss the waste issue on Wednesday. However, they did not show up.
“From the tweet of Sec. Locsin, they were supposed to meet yesterday. The Canadian authorities tsaka DFA pero di sila sumipot (but they didn’t show up). That triggered it. In other words, kung hindi kayo sincere, bakit pa tayo magkakaroon ng relasyon (If you’re not sincere, why do we need to have relations)?” Panelo said.
“The fact alone that Secretary Locsin has recalled our diplomats there shows that not only are we serious, we’re already warning them (that) we’re going to sever diplomatic relations,” he added.
Panelo said the recall order is also the Philippine government’s way of persuading Canada to speed up the process of retrieving its garbage.
“That order of the recall is to persuade them to make it fast. The more they delay, the more personnel will be coming back,” Panelo said.
“The refusal to bring the garbage back to their shores is disruptive of our diplomatic relations,” he added.
Earlier, Panelo said the government could accept a "slight delay" in the shipment of the garbage back to Canada.
He, however, said Duterte is free to change his mind if his patience is pushed to the limit.
“Ang isang tao may hanggangan. Kung ang reason mo ay valid sa kanya, okay lang pero kung di naman valid, babaguhin yung desisyon niya di na siya magiging maunawain or understanding dahil binobola mo na siya (People have their limits. If your reason for delay is valid to him, it’s fine but if it’s not, he can change his decision and will no longer be understanding because you’re just pulling his leg),” Panelo said.
No negative impact
Panelo, meanwhile, said he does not see the trash issue between the Philippines and Canada to have any negative repercussions to the Filipino workers there.
“I don’t think magkakaroon ng problema dahil yung mga nandun naman, legal at kailangan din nila mga overseas workers natin (we’re going to have a problem because our workers there are legal and they also need our overseas workers),” Panelo said.
“Ang gobyerno kung kailangan nila ang overseas workers natin dun, siyempre di nila gagalawin yun. Madi-disrupt din ang takbo ng kanilang palakad dun (If a foreign government needs our overseas workers there, of course they won’t be affected because their businesses would be affected),” he added.
December 2017 data from the DFA showed that there are some 800,000 Filipino workers in Canada.
He also assured that government under the Duterte administration will always be protective of all Filipino workers in foreign countries.
“Whatever the consequence, this government will be protective of the interests of our countrymen in any part of the world,” Panelo said.
Panelo said the decision to recall Philippine envoys to Canada is Locsin’s idea since the President does not micromanage.
“The President does not interfere with his department heads because they are their alter egos, they know what the President’s program is with respect to relations with other countries,” Panelo said.
Canada has not yet responded to Locsin’s decision to recall the Philippine envoys. (PNA)
Photo by Joven Cagande/The STAR/Philstar