Filipino Carolers Tell Korean Government to Give Best Christmas Gift Ever: Ship Back Your Garbage Now!

In a bid to hasten the re-shipment of Korean garbage to its source, members of the environmental health and justice group EcoWaste Coalition today trooped to the South Korean Embassy in Taguig City for a special caroling for a cause. 

Dubbed as the “Keep Your Promise” caroling, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with pro-environment "running priest" Father Robert Reyes and Buklod Tao, gathered at the Embassy gates to restate their demand to get the Korean garbage, described by the authorities as “injurious to public health,” out of the country before Christmas.

The government of South Korea had earlier confirmed through a press release issued on November 21, 2018 by its Embassy “that it would take measures to have the wastes in question be brought back to Korea as soon as possible,” stressing that “relevant authorities of Korea will have the wastes repatriated and properly disposed (of) and work to prevent recurrence of the problem.”

“We are here to implore the Korean government to honor its promise and ensure that the illegal hazardous waste shipments weighing 6,500 metric tons are removed from our land.   

As the customs authorities have already issued a ‘Re-Exportation Order’ and confirmed that the garbage ‘is now ready for pick-up,’ we hope the re-shipment will be done at once before Christmas,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“With the resources at the command of the shipper and the Korean government, we see no justifiable excuse for the delay.  The re-export of the garbage consignments will be the best Christmas gift ever that we can ask for from South Korea,” she added.

For his part, Father Robert Reyes said: "The Korean dumping incident, I hope, will be resolved before Christmas and will not suffer the same fate as the infamous Canadian garbage imports.  We will keep our fingers crossed that this stinking scandal will be over soon and will not occur again."

To drive their message home, the protestors sang a modified version of “Sa Maybahay ang Aming Bati,” a favorite song that children sing when they go caroling.  The song’s last stanza says: “Ang sanhi po ng pagparito, ipaalala inyong pangako. Kung sakaling kami'y perwisyo, pasensiya na kayo kami'y apurado.” They also brought a dummy trash-filled boat with ribbon and bow resembling a gift.  The side of the boat is marked “Rush: Return to Korea.”  

The protestors also held blown up photos of the illegal Korean garbage imports that were taken by the EcoWaste Coalition during a field visit conducted on December 11 at the PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

This latest action came on the heels of a “Re-Exportation Order” issued last December 6 by the Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Region X against the misdeclared “plastic synthetic flakes” imported by Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. from South Korea that were found to be “misdeclared, heterogenous and injurious to public health.”

A copy of the “Re-Exportation Order” obtained by the EcoWaste Coalition from BOC-Region X was submitted to the South Korean Embassy.  The order was recommended by John M. Simon, Port Collector, Mindanao Container Terminal Sub-Port and approved by Atty. Floro G. Calixihan, Jr., District Collector, Bureau of Customs – Collection District X. 

According to the statement provided by Simon to the EcoWaste Coalition on December 11: “The BOC has announced that the illegal imported garbage from South Korea is now ready for pick-up and repatriation back to Korea.  The South Korean government is being reminded of its promise to assist in the return of the waste as soon as possible in compliance to its commitment to the Basel Convention.”

“The call of the people is for its immediate return to Korea,” Simon emphasized.

The carolers concluded their event by singing an altered “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” that ends with this line: “And a waste-free New Year." 

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