EcoWaste Coalition Backs Inventory and Inspection of Overstaying Containers in BOC Ports as Recommended by COA

The environmental advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition has expressed its support to a recommendation made by state auditors for an inventory and inspection of all overstaying containers in Bureau of Customs (BOC) ports nationwide.

The anti-waste dumping group also threw its weight behind a proposal by Misamis Oriental District II Representative Juliette Uy to open 880 of the 6,985 overstaying containers that may contain imported garbage and other illegal waste cargoes.

According to the 2018 Consolidated Annual Audit Report on the BOC by the Commission on Audit (COA), “a total of 6,985 overstaying containers carrying various articles remained undisposed in various BOC ports for a period ranging from 30 days to more than 25 years.

The non-disposal of the overstaying shipments violates Republic Act 10863, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act,   particularly Section 1141 of Chapter 10 on the “Disposition of Property in Customs Custody,” COA said.

In view of this, COA told BOC, among other recommendations, to “conduct inventory and immediate inspection of all overstaying containers to determine existence/condition and status of the goods.”

Eight hundred and eighty of these overstaying containers were without declared information, uninspected and could not be offered for auction as their contents “may pose risk or hazard to the port.”

“These 880 containers could very well contain garbage or hazardous materials illegally imported by their respective consignees. Remember, the garbage shipments in Tagoloan Port were discovered after they overstayed at the port,” stated Uy.

Uy suggested that the overstaying containers be inspected by inter-agency teams, along with non-government experts.

For her part, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that “the public have the right to know what is hidden in these abandoned container vans.”

“Like Rep. Uy, we are concerned that these containers may contain contaminated wastes posing hazards to human health and the environment.  We therefore urge the BOC to conduct speedy inventory and inspection of the overstaying containers as recommended by COA and to make their findings as transparent as possible,” she said.

“In the event that hazardous wastes and other proscribed materials are found, we expect charges to be filed against responsible parties and the re-export of the illegal shipments to their points of origin.  Our country is not a dumping ground for other countries‘ garbage,” she added.

Given the spate of illegal waste exports to the Philippines, the EcoWaste Coalition and other environmental groups are campaigning for a complete and permanent ban on all waste imports to protect the country from turning into a global dumpsite, as well as to protect the people's environmental rights.