Duterte lifts ban on gov’t trips to Canada

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President Rodrigo Duterte has lifted the ban he imposed prohibiting Philippine government officials from traveling to Canada after the departure of Canadian wastes from the Port of Subic, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

“Lifted banning of government official trips to Canada,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told reporters in a message but did not give further details.

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also withdrew his May 16 order for the recall of the Filipino ambassador and consuls to Canada.

“To our recalled posts, get your flights back. Thanks, and sorry for the trouble you went through to drive home a point,” Locsin said on his official Twitter account.

In a memorandum dated May 20, 2019 signed by Medialdea by authority of the President, government officials were banned from traveling to Canada following the delay in the North American country’s commitment to retrieve the 69 containers of trash it dumped in the Philippines in 2013.

The memo also directed heads of government agencies to “reduce official interaction with representatives of the Canadian government.”

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the signing of the memo was part of Duterte’s directive to diminish diplomatic relations with Canada in light of Canada’s failure to immediately retrieve its garbage.

Panelo emphasized that no amount of discussion could resolve what he described as Canada’s “offensive act” to turn the Philippines into a dumpsite.

On May 31, the illegally transported garbage from Canada which has been stored at the Subic Bay Freeport finally sailed out of the country after more than six years.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman and administrator Wilma Eisma said a total of 69 garbage-laden containers were loaded into MV Bavaria, a Liberian-flagged container ship commissioned to transport the containers back to Canada.

Upset by Canada’s failure to retrieve its garbage, Duterte decided to pay a private shipping company to return the garbage to Canada.

The Canadian government committed to shoulder the expenses of shipping out the trash, but failed to meet the President’s May 15 deadline. PNA