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PH recalls envoys to Canada over missed trash shipment deadline

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Tons of garbage from Canada were illegally exported to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has ordered the recall of Philippine ambassador and consuls to Canada after the Canadian government failed to meet the May 15 deadline on shipping back tons of garbage it sent to the Philippines several years ago.

In a post on his Twitter account on Thursday, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the recall order has been issued and the Philippine envoys to Canada are expected to be back in the country in a day or so.

“At midnight last night, letters for the recall of our ambassador and consuls to Canada went out. They are expected here in a day or so. Canada missed the May 15 deadline,” he said.

Locsin said the reason for the recall is to “maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”

The DFA secretary said the move was triggered by Canada’s failure to show up at a meeting with the Bureau of Customs, as relayed to him by the Department of Finance (DOF).

“That the government may consider a 2 to 3 week delay DOES NOT EXTEND THE DEADLINE. Our diplomatic presence in Canada shall be de minimis,” he said.

“At the Japanese enthronement ceremony, DOF informed me that Canada did not show up at a meeting with Customs and that was the trigger,” he added.

On Wednesday, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said there might be a slight delay in shipping out the Canadian garbage due to the processing of documents but he made no mention of any plans to recall envoys when he gave updates about the exported trash.

“According to the DFA, there might be a slight delay because of processing, documents are being prepared so it might take a little longer. The important thing is, they are taking it,” he told reporters at a Palace briefing.

He had then surmised that the shipment of the trash might begin in “one to two weeks.”

The Canadian government earlier agreed to pay for the expenses in shipping out all 69 waste containers it had dumped in the Philippines in 2013 following a stern warning issued by President Rodrigo Duterte last month.

READ: Finally! Canada agrees to shoulder return of trash shipment

The President had warned he would declare “war” against Canada if it failed to move its illegally exported trash. He was referring to 103 containers of Canadian mixed wastes that arrived in Manila in batches from 2013 to 2014.

READ: Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

Ottawa earlier assured Manila it is working on resolving the issue “to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.” (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Duterte fires FDA chief Puno over alleged corruption

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno | Courtesy: PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno for alleged corruption, the Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced this during a press briefing on Thursday by reading a letter signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea addressed to Puno.

“Dear Ms. Puno, please be advised that upon the instruction of the President, your appointment as director general of the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Heath is hereby terminated effective immediately,” the letter dated May 15 stated.

“This is in line with the President’s continuing mandate to eradicate graft and corruption, and to ensure that public officials and employees conduct themselves in a manner worthy of public trust,” the letter added.

Puno was also directed to turn over all official documents, papers and properties in her possession to the office of the Undersecretary for Health regulation of the Department of Health “to ensure uninterrupted delivery of public service.”

Puno was appointed by Duterte as head of the FDA in 2016.

READ: 3 cops killed, 3 others wounded in Camarines Sur ambush

She survived an ambush in October 2018 allegedly staged by the New People’s Army in Lupi, Camarines Sur.

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Malacañang: Recall of PH officials over trash spat, a warning to Canada

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Canadian trash illegally exported to the Philippines (left) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right)

MANILA, Philippines – The order of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to recall the Philippine ambassador and consuls to Canada is a warning that the diplomatic relations between the two countries may be severed over a garbage spat, the Malacañang said on Thursday.

This was after the Canadian government missed the May 15 deadline to take back tons of trash it sent to Manila several years ago.

DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the recall order was to “maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”

READ: PH recalls envoys to Canada over missed trash shipment deadline

“The fact alone that Secretary Locsin has recalled our diplomats there shows that not only are we serious, we are already warning them, we’re gonna severe diplomatic relations,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters at a press briefing.

Panelo added that the recall order for envoys aims to urge the Canadian government to expedite the garbage shipment process.

“That order of the recall is to persuade them to make it fast. The more the delay, the more personnel will be coming back,” he said.

Panelo on Wednesday said there might be a slight delay in shipping out the Canadian garbage due to the processing of documents. He had then surmised that the shipment of the trash might begin in “one to two weeks.”

The Canadian government earlier agreed to pay for the expenses in shipping out all 69 waste containers it had dumped in the Philippines in 2013 following a stern warning issued by President Rodrigo Duterte last month.

READ: Finally! Canada agrees to shoulder return of trash shipment

The President had warned he would declare “war” against Canada if it fails to retrieve its illegally exported trash.

He was referring to 103 containers of Canadian mixed wastes that arrived in Manila in batches from 2013 to 2014. The trash from around 26 containers have been dumped in a private landfill in Tarlac.

READ: Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

Ottawa earlier assured Manila it is working on resolving the issue “to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.”

There are more than 837,000 Filipinos residing and working in Canada, based on a 2016 census. Most of them are located in Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

Some Filipinos there have appealed to the Philippine government to reconsider its move against Canada so as not to jeopardize the relations between the two nations.

Malacañang, however, assured that the government will continue to protect the interest of Filipinos abroad no matter what the outcome of its actions will be.

“Whatever the consequence, this government will be protective of the interest of our countrymen in any part of the world,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Palace lambasts detractors over Netflix video attacking Duterte

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Political comedian Hasan Minhaj | Courtesy: Netflix

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang lambasted a political-satire show on Netflix hosted by comedian Hasan Minhaj for “maliciously (implying) that President (Rodrigo) Duterte is an ‘autocrat’ who ‘every so often goes on a killing spree’.

“We find it desperate that, on the eve of the Philippine midterm elections, the vociferous detractors of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte would use an American comedy show, aired on Netflix, to demonize the Chief Executive and his government in its episode entitled ‘Brazil, Corruption and the Rainforest’ before the global audience,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement late Tuesday night.

Andanar made the remark after an episode of Hasan’s show “Patriot Act” went viral on social media a day before the May 13 midterm elections.

The Secretary hit Hasan for his “exaggerated” figures as the latter claimed that the government’s war on drugs allegedly yielded 27,000 deaths which is way higher than the actual, official count.

According to the Andanar, “There are about 5,050 drug personalities who died during the 115,435 anti-drug operations from July 2016 to November 2018.”

“We express outrage that such erroneous narratives, obviously peddled by anti-Duterte haters and trolls, would find their way to the gullible TV host and his comedy show and unwittingly parrot these falsehoods to an audience unaware of the real score in the Philippines,” he said.

In fact, Andanar said, a recent survey by an independent pollster which showed that 6 out of 10 Filipinos expressed their support to the government’s war on drugs “attesting that the campaign is effective.”

Also, in his video, the American comedian criticized Duterte for his endorsement of some senatorial aspirants.

In response, Andanar defended Duterte saying: “The President called on the public to vote for those who support his measures to uplift people from poverty and have a stable, comfortable, and peaceful life that they deserve. He also called on the public to dismiss black propaganda against the administration amid the midterm elections.”

But even if the President endorsed names for the senatorial election, the official argued that it is still the Filipino people that will decide on who shall be their leaders.

“The Philippines, like the USA, is a country where democracy is vibrant and the will of the people reigns supreme.  Ultimately, it is the Filipino people who will choose their own set of leaders and we simply have to respect the results of the elections,” Secretary Andanar stressed.

He added that the results of the midterm elections, which favored the candidates endorsed by President Duterte, just prove the Filipinos’ trust on the Chief Executive.

“The preliminary results of the nationwide polls affirmed that the public indeed heeded the President’s call. This proves that the voting population continues to believe in the genuine reforms advocated by the candidates endorsed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” he added

In the latter part of his commentary, Hasan expressed praises for personalities critical to the Duterte administration such as detained Senator Leila de Lima and Rappler CEO, Maria Ressa for “standing up” against the President.

But Andanar argued that “their cases underwent legal processes and their politics, or opposition to President Duterte, has nothing to do with the charges that they are now facing,”

“Both personalities violated domestic laws with Ms. Ressa committing tax evasion, breach of anti-dummy laws, and violation of cyber laws; and Senator De Lima transgressing anti-drug laws,” the Communication Secretary explained. – Marje Pelayo (with details from Rosaliie Coz)

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