Ottawa dismayed by Locsin's order for PH diplomats to pull out of Canada because of unshipped garbage

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 16) — Canada expressed disappointment over Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. Thursday decision to recall the Philippine ambassador stationed there, after the North American country missed the deadline to retrieve tons of garbage shipped to Philippine ports.

In a series of tweets, Locsin announced that recall letters were sent to the Philippine ambassador and consuls in the country's mission in Toronto as the clock struck 12 midnight on Wednesday.

"They are expected here in a day or so," Locsin said. "Canada missed the May 15 deadline. And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there."

Locsin ordered Ambassador Petronila Garcia and the consul generals in Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver to "get the next flight out" of Canada.

The Canadian government, in a statement, expressed dismay over Locsin's move.

"Canada is disappointed by this decision to recall the Philippines ambassador and consuls general," Brittany Fletcher, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson said in an e-mail to CNN Philippines. "However, we will continue to closely engage with the Philippines to ensure a swift resolution of this important issue."

A very angry President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier threatened to go to war with the North American country for failing to retrieve some 2,000 tons of garbage shipped to the Philippines and remain in the country's ports for six years now.

READ: PH warns of cutting ties if Canada won't take trash soon

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte has been informed about Locsin's recall order.

"That order of the recall is to persuade them (Canada) to make it fast. The more they delay, the more personnel will be coming back," Panelo told reporters on Thursday afternoon, pointing out that the garbage issue has become "disruptive" to diplomatic ties between the two countries. 

"That recall shows that we are very serious in asking them to get back their garbage. Otherwise, we're gonna sever relations with them," he added. 

He said reports point to documentation issues on Canada's end which is stalling the process. 

Panelo also dismissed the need to tap a negotiator between the two nations, saying that it should only take one order from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to pick up their trash. 

Panelo added that he does not expect these developments to affect overseas Filipino workers and migrants in Canada, noting that the Philippine government "will always be protective" of nationals. 

A total of 103 container vans containing trash were shipped to Subic and Manila in several batches from 2013 to 2014. Canadian-based firm Chronic Plastics, Inc., which exported the vans, misdeclared their contents as plastic scrap materials.

In late April, Duterte gave Ottawa a week to take the trash back but the deadline was pushed back to May 15.

During his visit to Manila in November 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Duterte that they were already "finding a solution" to the problem, pointing to "legal barriers" that blocked the immediate the re-exportation of the trash.

Hours before the deadline, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Malacañang could accept a "reasonable delay," stressing that what was important was the certainty that Canada would take back their trash.

But the Foreign Affairs chief said further delays were unacceptable, adding that he was appalled to hear that Canadian representatives did not show up at a meeting with the Bureau of Customs.

The Canadian government reportedly offered to shoulder shipping costs for the return of the waste,but the finance department said that "bureaucratic red tape" in the Canadian government was hampering the effort.