Open letter on repatriation of Canadian garbage and recall of Philippine diplomats

Open letter on repatriation of Canadian garbage and recall of Philippine diplomats

TORONTO, May 16, 2019 —We are deeply dismayed by the recent statement of the Philippines’ top diplomat recalling official envoys from Canada over the disposal of festering garbage wrongly dumped. We are particularly disturbed that Foreign Affairs secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr., known for his scathing and sarcastic social media posts, does not understand the implications of his words to Filipinos residing and working in Canada.

Locsin spat in a tweet: “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. And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.

The May 15 deadline is what officials set after an angry Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to go to war or to forcibly ship the containers of garbage back to Canada.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said “that recall shows that we are very serious in asking them to get back their garbage otherwise we’re gonna sever relations with them.”

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.

This is ill-timed for us Filipino citizens whose rights are disregarded by the Manila government under Duterte. Not that we don’t want the garbage to be repatriated, but because the Philippine embassies and consulates also administer, on top of their regular appointments as foreign service officials, the overseas absentee voting in all procedures including distribution and collection of ballots and transmission of tallies after elections.

Casting of votes by overseas voters for this year’s midterm elections was conducted from April 13 to May 14 with reported irregularities. Many of our compatriots did not receive their ballots or received them late and were not able to mail them back.

If Ambassador Petronila Garcia and the consul generals in Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver were ordered by Locsin to “get the next flight out” of Canada, what will happen to the ballots? How would audits be done to check whether results were recorded accurately as the voter intended? What is left of our democracy with all the delays and glitches and no one to be held accountable? What about the regular duties of foreign service establishments to be vacated?

There is a lot at stake for Filipinos in Canada. We believe that there is a resolution to the long-running problem without going through the current trash diplomacy the president’s men are undertaking.

We also hoped for successful honest elections, where citizens participate, and observe, all preparation and procedures before its conduct. However, based on observations, we are forced to believe and attest that it was corrupted and foul as the words spewed from the president’s mouth.

Both governments must be held accountable–Canada on for environmental justice and the Philippines on electoral process and national democracy.

While we support the firm stand of the Philippine government on the trash-dumping issue, we fear the rotten tyranny remains stinking in Manila. Overseas Filipinos in Canada prefer that we have leader who genuinely protects our interests with as much courage, not a mass murderer in Malacañang Palace.

We are not giving up the fight.

Across borders people power is rising.

 

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