CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY , Philippines – An environmental group has called on authorities on Saturday to return the tons of trash from South Korea that entered a local seaport recently as it urges the government to ban the importation of waste plastic.

In its Nov. 10 statement, the EcoWaste Coalition has denounced the entry of plastic trash from South Korea and demanded the government to reject these discarded materials and have them shipped back to their country of origin.

“We find this latest incident of plastic waste dumping outrageous and unacceptable. Why do we keep on accepting garbage from other countries when we know that our country’s plastic waste, which is literally everywhere, is spilling to the oceans and endangering marine life?” said EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator Aileen Lucero.

Lucero said it’s high time for the Philippines to disallow garbage imports and to demand that developed countries, as well as manufacturers of plastics and other disposable goods, take full responsibility for their products throughout their whole life cycle.

“The illegal garbage shipments from Canada misrepresented as recyclable plastic scraps, which are still in our country, are a stinking reminder of how disadvantageous and unjust global waste trade is,” she added.

Based on the request of alert order issued on Oct. 25 by Joel Pinawin, supervisor of the Bureau of Customs-10’s (BOC-10) Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, the trash was wrongfully declared as “plastic synthetic flakes” that arrived at the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, from South Korea on board MV Affluent Ocean on July 21, 2018.

EcoWaste Coalition said the importation of such shipment, which was consigned to Verde Soko Phil. Industrial Corp., was in violation of Section 1400 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act on “Misdeclaration, Misclassification, Undervaluation in Goods Declaration,” one of the crimes punishable under the said law.

MCT sub-port collector John Simon was quoted as saying that “When you say plastic flakes, it should be all plastic flakes. But we saw wood and other materials.”

It can be recalled that a Phividec Industrial Authority (PIA) official has issued its own statement this August saying Verde Soko has complied with government regulations that’s why it approved the construction of the company’s recycling plant inside the PIA-managed industrial zone in Tagoloan.

Engr. Dax Jara, safety specialist at the Phividec Industrial Estate (PIE), said PIA allowed the 51 metric tons of “non-hazardous segregated processed plastics from Pyongteak, South Korea” to enter Verde Soko’s facility through a deal made between Verde Soko and PIA.

Jara said PIA entered into a memorandum of understanding with Soko Verde in June for the “sorting and processing of plastics for briquettes and plastic resin for production of plastic pallets” and that the government agency was “satisfied” that the company “has complied with their commitments” stipulated in the MOU.

Verde Soko’s recycling facility is on the 4.5-hectare lot it occupies within the PIE complex at Sitio Buguac in Barangay Santa Cruz, Tagoloan.

In a previous interview, Jara said the PIA’s role is to assist entities like Verde Soko in securing the necessary documents prior to its operation in the economic zone.

He added the imported recyclable materials were approved by the Philippine Embassy in South Korea before it as shipped to the country.

“These plastics were given the Red Ribbon Certificate by the Philippine Embassy in South Korea and were duly cleared following Philippine protocol,” Jara said.

As of this writing, Verde Soko has yet to make a statement to the media in response to this issue.(

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