Palace bans official travels to Canada

May 26, 2019
Salvador Panelo

PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson Salvador Panelo yesterday confirmed that government officials have been directed to refrain from issuing travel authorities for official trips to Canada.

“We confirm that Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea issued a memorandum dated 20 May 2019, directing all department secretaries and heads of agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations and government financial institutions to refrain from issuing travel authorities for official trips to Canada,” Panelo said in a statement.

He added that in the memorandum, heads of government agencies were also told to reduce their official interaction with the Canadian government.

“We maintain that these directives are consistent with our stance on the diminished diplomatic relations with Canada starting with the recall of our Ambassador and Consul-General in that country in light of Canada’s failure to retrieve its containers of garbage unlawfully shipped to the Philippines,” Panelo said.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. ordered the recall of several ranking Philippine officials in Canada after it missed the deadline to take back the tons of trash it illegally shipped to the Philippines years ago.

Panelo said the recall was a warning that the Philippines is ready to end its decades-old diplomatic ties with Canada.

President Rodrigo Duterte had lashed out at Canada over the tons of household trash that were illegally exported to the Philippines in batches in 2013 and 2014.

He even threatened to go to war over the garbage now rotting in ports and a landfill, but Panelo said the President’s remark was just a figure of speech.

Canada said they were already working with the Philippine government for a “timely resolution” to remove the tons of Canadian garbage in the country. Documentation issues however were stalling the process for the repatriation, according to Panelo.

Canada said the removal of the trash would be completed by end of June. However, this was unacceptable to Duterte, Panelo said.  

Duterte is sending the trash back to Canada, and the Philippine government will shoulder the cost of repatriating the trash, Panelo said.

He added that if Canada will not allow its garbage to enter the country, the contracted vessel would leave the containers of solid waste in its territorial waters.