Sotto: Justin Trudeau raised EJKs to ‘divert’ trash issue

MEETING THE KIDS. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) holds a baby during a visit to Likhaan, before attending the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila on November 12, 2017. Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

MEETING THE KIDS. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) holds a baby during a visit to Likhaan, before attending the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila on November 12, 2017.

Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III believes Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the issue of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines as a "diversionary tactic" when he met with President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, so that the Canadian trash issue won't be discussed.  

Sotto made the statement in an interview with reporters on Thursday, November 16, when asked about the Canadian leader who was in town for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings.

“Imbes na mapag-usapan 'yung toxic waste or 'yung basura ng Canada na dinump sa atin, dinala niya 'yung usapan sa EJK na hindi pinag-uusapan ng superpowers like the United States, China, and even the EU because they feel that it's a local problem, it's a country's issue. Discuss it within yourselves – ganun attitude nila e," he told reporters. 

(Instead of talking about the toxic waste or Canada's trash dumped here, he steered the discussion to EJKs which not even superpowers like the United States, China, and even the EU discussed because they feel that it's a local problem; it's a country's issue. Discuss it within yourselves – that was their attitude.) 

Senator Gregorio Honasan II, for his part, said that diplomatically, countries must "give each other some measure of mutual respect."

"Let's not be too judgmental because if we consider killings outside the rule of law...then we don't have a monopoly of that. Other countries, without being specific, have done worse," he said.

Among the leaders who had a bilateral meeting with Duterte on the sidelines of the Manila Summit, it was only Trudeau who directly raised concern over human rights abuses in the Philippine leader's war on drugs. Duterte called the move a "personal and official insult."

'Nagpa-cute lang'

Senator Cynthia Villar also called out  Trudeau for giving an unsatisfactory response to the years-old problem of trash from his country illegally shipped to the Philippines. 

Villar said in an interview with reporters on Thursday that Trudeau pulled so many "gimmicks" during his recent visit to Manila  but failed to address the issue that mattered to the host country the most.

"Daming gimik-gimik. Yaman-yaman nila e, kunin na lang nila ipabalik. Iisipin pa daw? E ang liit-liit na bagay, 'di pa niya kinomit (He had too many gimmicks. They're very rich, why not just bring it back? They have to study it? That's such a small matter, but he still didn't give his commitment)," Villar, chair of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, told reporters.

The senator was apparently not won over by the charismatic Canadian leader.(READ: Plus points on human rights, a miss on environment for Justin Trudeau)

"Ako naman, kung ganoong kaliit, dapat sinettle na 'yun. Liit na bagay.....Pero cute na cute naman kayo lahat sa kanya, nagtitilian pa. Ako 'di ako nacu-cutean. Matanda na ako, hindi na ako nababaliw," Villar added. (READ: Squeals, selfies: Trudeau mania hits even gov't officials)

(For me, if it's such a small matter, they should've settled already. But you all find him cute, some were even squealing. I don't find him cute. I'm already old, I don't go crazy anymore.) 

Trudeau, who was invited for the ASEAN-Canada 40th Commemorative Summit,  said in a press briefing on Tuesday, November 14 that it is "now theoretically possible" to get back the illegal trash since "legal barriers and restrictions…have now been addressed."

But Trudeau quickly added that the trash – 103 container vans of it – came from a private business and not the Canadian government.

"But there's still a number of questions around who would pay for it, where the financial responsibility is. This was, at its origin a commercial transaction. It did not involve government," he added.

For Villar, the involvement of private business in the issue should not be an excuse. 

During Trudeau's visit, he had other activities on the sidelines of the Manila Summit, including a visit to Likhaan, a non-governmental women's health advocacy group, and a stopver at popular Filipino fastfood Jollibee. (LOOK: Justice Trudeau stops by Jolibee, advocacy center in Manila)  – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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