Customs’ baggage

The Philippines has again become a dumping ground of industrialized countries, thanks to the hospitality of the Bureau of Customs.

Customs’ baggage

Shipments of garbage misdeclared as “plastic synthetic flakes” from South Korea arrived on July 21, 2018 at the port of Philippine Sinter Corp. in Villanueva, and on Oct. 20, 2018 at the Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental province.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources discovered that the shipments, consigned to Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp., arrived with no prior importation clearance from the agency, and were found to contain bales of plastic waste with hazardous materials, such as used dextrose tubes, diapers, batteries, bulbs and electronic equipment.

The garbage shipments violated several Philippine laws, including the rules against toxic substances and hazardous wastes, and ecological solid management.

The Korean Embassy in the Philippines confirmed the illegal shipments. A joint inspection by the Korean Customs Service and the Ministry of Environment and Customs Service of the exporter’s warehouse in Pyeongtaek City found plastic garbage waiting to be shipped, mixed with large amount of waste wood, metal and residuals that have not gone through appropriate recycling process. The embassy promised to take measures to have the wastes in question brought back to Korea as soon as possible.

How these shipments arrived on Philippine shores and passed through Customs is puzzling. But the finger of blame is pointing squarely to the bureau for allowing the entry of the illegal wastes.

The incident is not new to Customs. In July 2015, 26 of the 103 garbage-filled container vans from Canada were secretly buried in a private landfill in Tarlac City at the request of Customs, drawing condemnation from local and national politicians, civil society groups and citizens.

Customs officials liable for the uploading of the Korean garbage in Tagoloan even without importation clearance, meanwhile, should be held accountable for the latest incident. They should be dismissed from office outright, for ignorance of the law and endangering the health of their countrymen and the environment.

Topics: Philippines , Bureau of Customs , Department of Environment and Natural Resources , Mindanao International Container Terminal , Philippine Sinter Corp
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