Persons behind Korean trash mess to face charges, says Customs exec

Jan. 15, 2019

BACK TO SOKOR. The ship that took back the controversial plastic trash to its country of origin docks at the Mindanao Container Terminal sub-port in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, on Sunday, January 13. 2019. Customs officials said about 1,500 metric tons were returned to South Korea as its importer failed to comply with the requirements. (Jigger J. Jerusalem/

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Appropriate charges will be filed against those behind the importation of about 6,500 tons of plastic trash following their reshipment back to Pyeongtaek City, South Korea, a Bureau of Customs-10 (BOC-10) official said.

“Charges will definitely be filed,” said John Simon, Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) sub-port collector.

Simon said it is now up to the National Bureau of Investigation-10 (NBI-10) to gather evidence and establish the perpetrators.

He said whoever will be found to have violated the law will face possible charges.

Simon said BOC-10 will extend all the assistance the NBI-10 needs so that their report can be thorough and complete.

The garbage shipment arrived at the MCT in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental from Pyongtaek City, South Korea in two batches last year to be used supposedly as raw material for a recycling facility owned and operated by Verde Soko Philippine Industrial Corp., but were put on hold by authorities after the company failed to comply with the permits required by both the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Environmental Management Bureau-10 (EMB-10).

Simon said the second shipment that arrived last October was declared as “plastic synthetic flakes” but contained all sorts of discarded plastic materials.

Lawyer Abbas Lao, EMB-10 legal officer, said they have not issued an import permit to Verde Soko as the firm has yet to comply with all the requirements. The import permit must be issued by EMB-10 first to Verde Soko before it was allowed to bring in the plastic trash to the Philippines.

Verde Soko’s recycling plant is located inside the Phividec Industrial Estate, a government-managed economic zone, in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Santa Cruz, Tagoloan. On Sunday, Jan. 13, the 51 containers, or 1,500 metric tons, of trash that were stored inside the Phividec Industrial Estate facility in Tagoloan were shipped back to South Korea.

Simon said MV Kalliroe V8525 that carried the garbage out left the MCT sub-port late Sunday night and is expected to reach its country of origin 10 days later. The reshipment, he said, was realized through a mutual agreement between the South Korean and Philippine governments last month, in which South Korea promised to shoulder all the expenses for the delivery back to the country of origin.

The remaining garbage, which was stored at the Verde Soko compound, he added, “will be repacked and treated before re-exportation in the last week of January or first week of February.”

During committee hearing conducted by the Misamis Oriental provincial board last Nov. 15, Neil Alburo, Verde Soko president, assured that they are willing to have the plastic trash be shipped back to South Korea.

In a statement recently posted on its website, the South Korean Embassy in Manila quoted its Ministry of Environment and the Korean Customs Services confirming that the trash that was exported to the Philippines “had not gone through proper recycling process and were different from it declared in its export declaration and that documents required for export was forged, they have taken measures against related violations of law.” (

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