CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs in Northern Mindanao (BOC-10) said it will be sending the last batch of imported wastes back to South Korea by next week.
John Simon, BOC-10 district collector, shared the reshipment is slated on Tuesday, Aug. 4, but only officials and personnel from the BoC will be present during the send-off as “there are still restricted areas in the port and social distancing is strictly enforced”.
The remaining 80 containers of Korean waste will be loaded onboard the vessel BF Mahia. The garbage was supposed to be transported early this year but was put on hold due to the threat of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a previous interview, he said the ship that was supposed to carry the trash was not allowed to leave port in China due to the surge of the virus infection.
“The Bureau of Customs had already initiated the re-exportation of 200 containers of Korean waste since January  but the operations was a little bit delayed by the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus,” he said.
The imported wastes, composed of discarded plastic and other items, arrived in the region in July and October 2018 for Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. to be used, allegedly, for its plastic recycling facility.
However, the company declared it as “plastic synthetic flakes” and failed to secure an import permit from the environment department.
The BOC-10 seized the trash and stored it at the Verde Soko facility inside the Phividec Industrial Estate Zone in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Sta. Cruz, Tagololan town in Misamis Oriental.
BoC estimated the total weight of South Korean trash at 6,500 metric tons which were contained in 40-foot container vans. A 40-foot van has a carrying capacity of about 30 metric tons.
The environmental group EcoWaste Coalition said the final shipment of contaminated Korean wastes, which have been languishing in Misamis Oriental for almost two years, is a big win for environmental justice and a strong affirmation of the rule of law.
“As the entry of foreign waste will likely persist unless corrective regulations are instituted, we call upon President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to implement his abhorrence against waste dumping through an order banning all waste imports, including plastics intended for recycling,” said Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator.
She also noted that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has yet to revoke its policy allowing waste importation including “recyclable materials that contain hazardous substances” such as electronic, metal and plastic scraps, fly ash, and used oil.
EcoWaste also emphasized the need for the government to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, an international law that prohibits developed countries from exporting hazardous wastes to less developed countries like the Philippines.
Lucero reiterated their group’s support to the efforts made by the BoC and local government officials to put the “dumping controversy to rest.” (davaotoday.com)