Envi watchdog wants President to make strong stand vs foreign waste dumping in 4th Sona
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — The environment watchdog EcoWaste Coalition wants President Duterte to send a strong message in his upcoming State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday to ban the importation of all wastes in the country.
“We hope President Duterte in his upcoming Sona will reinforce his resolute stance against foreign waste dumping and give the environmental department and the customs bureau their marching orders to ensure zero entry of all wastes from overseas, including processed residuals cunningly called alternative fuels,” said Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator.
The EcoWaste Coalition has been one of the groups advocating for the return of tons of illegally shipped trash back to their countries of origin, particularly those from Canada, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Australia.
Lucero said they also wanted the President to set a definite deadline for the immediate re-export of Australian and South Korean waste shipments that were still languishing in Mindanao.
Even though the trash from Canada and Hong Kong have already been shipped back, the 211 tons of wastes from Australia and the remaining 5,177 metric tons of mixed plastic waste from South Korea were still at the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) inside the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
The trash from Australia has been declared “processed engineered fuel” imported by cement manufacturer Holcim Philippines, while those from South Korea were supposedly intended as materials for the plastic recycling facility by Verde Soko Philippine Industrial Corporation.
The managements of both Holcim and Verde Soko have assured they would abide by Philippine laws.
Government officials led by MCT sub-port collector John Simon earlier filed cases against the Verde Soko executives, including three Korean nationals, for violation of customs and environmental laws.
To assure the Filipino people that foreign waste dumping would no longer happen under Duterte’s watch, the coalition reiterated the need for the government to enforce a complete and permanent ban, not simply a moratorium, on waste imports to the Philippines.
“His fourth Sona is the right time for the chief policy maker to announce a total ban on foreign waste imports and his intent to ratify this year the Basel Ban Amendment and the Minamata Convention on Mercury, two landmark global agreements that seek to protect public health and the environment against hazardous chemicals and wastes,” Lucero said.
Adopted in 1995, the Basil Ban Amendment prohibits the export of hazardous and other wastes from developed to developing countries. The ban applies to export for any reason, including recycling.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury, adopted in 2013, seeks to reduce global mercy pollution from human activities that emit and release mercury and its compounds.
The coalition also expressed its hope that President Duterte would use Monday’s address “to rouse the whole nation into embracing much-needed waste prevention and reduction strategies at all level, including banning single-use plastics, to curb chemical and waste pollution that also threatens the world’s oceans.
In a recent study, the nongovernment group Ocean Conservancy found the Philippines to be among the world’s top three contributors to plastic pollution in oceans.
“We call on [Duterte] to throw his weight behind the campaign to stop plastic pollution and to urge the 18th Congress to pass without delay a robust law banning single-use plastics,” Lucero said.
The group also expected that the presidential speech would highlight best ecological practices in waste management without waste-to-energy incineration in all local government units. /lzb