MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte's remarks that he will declare war with Canada over the garbage shipment issue is merely a figure of speech, defense officials said.
"Figure of speech lang 'yan (That is just a figure of speech) to dramatize his extreme displeasure," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message to reporters Wednesday night.
Lorenzana, meanwhile, said that government must also "run after the importer of the garbage shipment".
DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong, meanwhile, echoed Lorenzana's remarks stressing that the remarks of the President are a natural expression of anger.
"He's dramatizing his extreme displeasure at tao lang naman ang Pangulo din naman (The President is also human). There are moments when maski tayo nakakapagsalita tayo nung mga words na hindi naman yun ang ating actual na ibig sabihin ano. Expression lang niya 'yun (even us, we tend to speak words even if we don't actually mean it. It is merely an expression)," Andolong said in a message to the Philippine News Agency Thursday.
Andolong also added that declaring war is not a simple issue.
"We all know na maraming dadaanang proseso yan (that there are a lot of procedures when it comes to that). We always respect processes saka (and) constitutional procedures. I think it's not what the President meant literally," the DND spokesperson said.
In a situation briefing on the effects of the magnitude 6.1 earthquake in San Fernando, Pampanga Tuesday, Duterte threatened to set sail to Canada and dump the garbage back there if they refused to resolve the issue.
"‘Yung basura ng --- ‘yung basura ng (The garbage from) Canada, I want a boat prepared. I'll give a warning to Canada maybe next week, that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail doon sa Canada, ibuhos ko ‘yang basura nila doon (I will pour their garbage there). I cannot understand why they are making us a da --- a dumpsite? And that is not the only case in point. They --- ano ‘yan --- papasunod-sunod ‘yan na ipinapadala ‘yung basura sa atin (They will consecutively send their garbage to us?). Well, not this time. Magka-away kami, mag… Eh ‘di ano. Awayin natin ang (We will be in trouble. Let's have a fight with) Canada. I will declare war against them. Kaya man natin ‘yan sila (We can fight them)," the President said.
"Isauli ko talaga ‘yan, ah tingnan mo. Ikarga mo ‘yan doon sa ano sa barko (I will return that to them you see. You load that into a ship), load it --- the containers to a ship and advice Cana --- and I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception," he added.
From 2013 to 2014, a total of 103 container vans from Canada reportedly arrived in batches at the Port of Manila.
The garbage was initially declared to contain only plastic scraps. However, it was found to have non-recyclable plastics, household wastes and used adult diapers. (PNA)