The environmental health and justice group EcoWaste Coalition today picketed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Port Area, Manila to press for the rapid return of the dumped Korean garbage to its origin.
The group’s latest protest action came hard on the heels of a statement by the government of South Korea confirming “it would take measures to have the wastes in question be brought back to Korea as soon as possible.”
“In line with the expression ‘strike while the iron is hot,’ we call upon the BOC to act with urgency, rush the removal of the dumped wastes in Misamis Oriental, and send them back where they belong,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“We hope the Korean garbage will be out of our territory before Christmas and not beyond December 31, 2018. Huwag na po sanang patagalin pa,” she added.
“BOC’s rapid action will send a clear and unequivocal signal to waste traffickers that the Philippines is taking strong action against illegal waste export to protect public health and the environment, and uphold the national dignity and sovereignty,” she emphasized.
To dramatize their demand for action against waste trafficking, the protestors carried a ship replica topped with mixed garbage and wielded placards in English and Korean urging the authorities to expedite the return of the controversial garbage shipments that originated from Pyeongtaek City.
Through a letter submitted to the Office of Commissioner Rey Guerrero, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the BOC to:
1. Expedite the process of re-shipping the Korean garbage to its origin as a topmost priority.
2. Hold customs officers liable for the uploading of the Korean garbage even without importation clearance.
3. Blacklist the shipper and charge the consignee for the illegal entry of the Korean garbage.
The above action points are pursuant to the state policies to “protect and promote the right to health of the people” and “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology,” and in line with BOC’s mandate to prevent and suppress the smuggling and entry of prohibited imported goods, the group said.
Last week, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea through a press release announced that “the Ministry of Environment on November 21 initiated legal procedure to have the wastes in question in the Philippines be brought back in accordance with Article 20 of the Law on Cross-border movement and Disposal of Wastes—Prior Notice of Repatriation Order—and embarked on investigation of the violation of Article 18-2 of the said law—False Export Declaration.”
The Korean Embassy also reported that a joint inspection by the Korean Customs Service and the Ministry of Environment and Customs Service of the exporter’s business site and 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, corroborating the initial findings by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) .
According to BOC-Region 10, some 6,500 tons of Korean garbage misdeclared as “plastic synthetic flakes” arrived on July 21, 2018 at the port of the Philippine Sinter Corporation in Villanueva, and on October 20, 2018 at the Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan.
The shipments consigned to Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. arrived with no prior importation clearance from DENR and were found to contain bales of plastic waste with hazardous materials such as used dextrose tubes, diapers, batteries, bulbs and electronic equipment and thus considered illegal.
This latest garbage dumping incident, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, is a brazen violation of the country’s customs and environmental laws and regulations, namely, Republic Act 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act), Customs Memorandum Circular 44-2015 (“No Importation Clearance, No Unloading Policy”), Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act), and Republic Act 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act).
The EcoWaste Coalition stressed that no disposal of foreign garbage in local dumps or landfills should be allowed by BOC’s leadership.
The group recalled that 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 the BOC, drawing broad condemnation from local and national politicians, civil society groups and citizens.