CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano said he is planning to take a legal action against entities which allowed the shipment of discarded plastic materials from South Korea to an economic zone in Tagoloan town.
Emano was referring to the tons of plastic trash imported by the company Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corporation which it said will be used as raw materials for recycling.
Verde Soko is the company that imported the plastics which its officials said they will process into pellets and briquettes and will be shipped back to South Korea and China as raw materials for plastic furniture and other items.
Emano said they would file an appropriate legal action against the government agencies which caused the entry of shipment to Misamis Oriental.
“If the [local government unit] will say it will file a case against Phividec, we will be compelled to file a case against Phividec, and even the Bureau of Customs, if there’s a need,” the governor said.
It was not immediately known what particular case the Phividec Industrial Authority, a government-owned and controlled corporation, and BOC-10 would be facing should the local governments push through with their plan.
According to the Bureau of Customs-10 (BOC-10), about 6,500 metric tons of plastic materials entered local ports on two separate occasions.
The first shipment, more than 5,100 metric tons, arrived at the Philippine Sinter Corporation port in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental on July 21, 2018.
The materials are now stored inside the Verde Soko facility in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Santa Cruz, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
The second batch of plastic trash, contained in 51 container vans, arrived at the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) in Tagoloan on Oct. 20, 2018, where the Customs authorities held within the Phividec Industrial Estate complex.
In a report prepared by the Misamis Oriental provincial board and was the result of the inspection of a multi-agency team conducted recently, inspectors noted that the imported plastics were given the Red Ribbon Certificate by the Philippine Embassy in South Korea and were duly cleared following Philippine protocol.
Verde Soko, the report added, “assures the public that 100 percent of all these materials will be used to power the energy requirement of the processing facility without any hazardous residual by-products.”
Neil Alburo, Verde Soko president, told Misamis Oriental provincial board members during a committee hearing on Nov. 15 that they are willing to have the plastic trash be shipped back to South Korea if the environment department deemed it toxic.
Charles Cho, the company’s chairman, said during the committee hearing that South Korea has a better waste management system in that the plastics that Verde Soko has imported is ready for recycling.
Lawyer Julius Lotilla, an official of the Cebu-based environmental group Sustainable Energy and Enterprise Development for Communities (Seed4Com), said they are keeping a close watch on Verde Soko to check if the company is really involved in recycling plastic wastes.
“We have not resolved the plastic pollution in the country. That’s what we want to achieve, whatever initiative is taken to resolve the country’s plastic pollution,” Lotilla said, referring to the Verde Soko’s intention.
According to its website, SeedCom is “committed to helping disaster-hit, poverty-stricken and last mile rural communities in the Philippines and improving human conditions by empowering them to attain economic and social development and environment sustainability.”
Jessica Wu, of the nongovernmental organization, Let’s Do It Philippines, said they would continue to monitor Verde Soko, and extend guidance to the firm as far as environmental compliance is concerned, in light of the controversy the company is involved in.
“As the third party, we’ll hold a dialogue with the company to make sure that they’re doing everything under the regulation, we’ll make sure that they will follow what we will advise them,” Wu said.
Another advocacy group, Pinoy Aksyon on Governance and the Environment, said in a statement on Monday the BOC-10 and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-10’ (DENR-10) Environment and Management Bureau to take proper action on the issue as it lambasted Verde Soko for the importation of plastic wastes.
Bencyrus Ellorin, Pinoy Aksyon chairperson, said the raw materials that Verde Soko imported are abundant in the country.
In fact, he said, Republic Act 900 of the solid waste management law mandates the recycling of these materials usually used as sachets of shampoos and an array of instant drinks.
“What makes matters worse is the mixing of other wastes to these plastics,” Ellorin said. “Obviously, the plastic flakes were just used as the front of the blatantly illegal importation of toxic wastes which is prohibited by Philippine laws and the Basel Convention.”
Basel Convention is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent the transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries. The Philippines is a signatory to the convention. (davaotoday.com)