Cagayan De Oro City - For the third time, the Bureau of Customs in Region 10 will ship back to South Korea 50 containers of households and municipal garbage imported by Verde Soko intented for making plastic bricks.
The 6,500 tons garbage shipment imported by Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corporation first arrived in Northern Mindanao in July and October 2018 disguised as plastic synthetic flakes to be as raw materials for plastic bricks.
Customs Collector John Simon said that the garbage has no place here in our country as we are not a dumping ground for waste, “We are not a dumping ground for rich countries’ waste,” Simon said.
Verde Soko imported the garbage declared as plastic flakes but it turned out that the garbage are househol waste. Verde Soko stored the imported waste at its yard inside the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan town, earning the ire of residents, lawmakers and environmentalists.
BOC-10 issued three warrants of seizure and detention against the illegal waste shipments, heterogenous and injurious to public health,” which it declared as misdeclared, heterogenous and injurious to public health,”
Citing violations of DENR Administrative Order 2013-22 and Republic Act 10863, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, BOC-10 ordered the waste shipments re-exported to their origin.
Simon said that the re-exportation of the remaining wastes from South Korea this month signifies our nation’s steadfastness to protect public health and the environment from the deceptive trade in hazardous waste disguised as plastic waste for recycling.
“As guardians of our ports, we (the BOC) are committed to curb illegal trade and halt all forms of customs fraud, including the practice of falsely declaring hazardous waste and other wastes as recyclables,” Simon said.
Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, emphasized that the chain of foreign waste dumping incidents that sparked national outrage warrants the imposition of tougher policies that will effectively deter the illegal traffic of hazardous wastes and other wastes, especially those from developed economies who have more resources to safely manage their own wastes.
Lucero asked President Rodrigo Duterte to impose a ban on garbage importation as this violates the Basel Convention of which the Philippines is a signatory.
The Basel Convention is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of Hazardous waste between nations and specifically to prevent the transfer of hazardous waste from developed countries to developing countries.
Davao City-based Interface Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) pushed for preventive measures to halt the entry of hazardous wastes and other refuse, including household and plastic trash, into the country’s ports.
“We must not allow countries to continue exporting their waste problem to the Philippines. To send a clear signal to these countries that we do not want their waste, the government has to fast track the adoption of preventive measures banning the entry of wastes in whatever form of disguise,” Chinkie Peliño-Golle, Executive Director of IDIS said.
Simon said that the government must not allow any entity to import waste as these are hazardous to health and environment.
Simon added that there must be accountability on the part of South Korea for the shipment of garbage.
Other groups also called for the national government to extend full assistance to the local government unit affected by the illegal traffic of waste, including the conduct of environmental sampling to assess the contamination of the storage area for the illegal waste and its cleanup and rehabilitation.
“We will conduct an investigation on the impact of the garbage to the environment. If there is a damage, we will elevate the case to the highest level,” Simon said.
“They need to pay for their crimes of the environment, Transboundary environmental crimes . We need certificate that shows this is the effect, we are violated and continually being violated. Our fight does not end here. We will fight to the end against the garbage of be powerful nations,” Simon said.
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