The government established an environmental protection and compliance division within the Bureau of Customs to monitor and control the dumping of hazardous substances and other wastes into the country, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Monday.
The creation of the division was in response to Dominguez’s directive in July to Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to form a special strike team that would guard against the entry of waste materials that other countries were attempting to dump in the Philippines.
“This strike team should work in tandem with other concerned government agencies in mounting a 24/7 watch over, and prevent, the entry of hazardous or toxic wastes into our country, in keeping with our environmental laws,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez issued the directive during a recent DoF executive committee meeting after Guerrero reported that he had called on his counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to strengthen the law enforcement capabilities of the organization’s member-states not only in the war against drug trafficking but also in preventing the region from being a dumping ground for the hazardous materials and wastes of other countries.
Guerrero said his fellow customs officials from the ASEAN member-states reacted positively to his proposal.
Guerrero issued Customs Memorandum Order No. 38-2019 institutionalizing EPCD that would become a permanent and specialized unit within the bureau.
The EPCD’s mandate covers monitoring the processing of shipments of hazardous substances, waste products, nuclear wastes, recyclable products or substances under the regulatory control of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Republic Act No. 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1999 mandates the Customs to assist the DENR in monitoring and preventing the entry of hazardous and nuclear wastes into the country.
The new division, which will be under the Customs’ Enforcement and Security Service of the Enforcement Group is also tasked to recommend the issuance of alert orders and pre-lodgement control orders against shipments suspected of containing goods in violations of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and environmental laws.