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Last of Korean trash to be shipped back

OPTIMISTIC Environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition and community members join the sendoff to South Korea of the second to the last tranche of the trash on Sunday. —JIGGER J. JERUSALEM

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Sunday shipped back to South Korea all the waste it illegally sent to the Philippines in 2018.

According to Port of Cagayan de Oro district collector John Simon, the third batch of the shipment was sent back on Sunday, while the last and remaining batch will be shipped on Feb. 23, bringing the total reexported waste to 201 containers.

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Imported by Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp., the South Korean waste shipments wrongly declared as “plastic synthetic flakes” and weighing about 6,500 tons arrived in Northern Mindanao in July and October 2018.

‘Injurious to public health’

Assessed by the authorities as “misdeclared, heterogenous and injurious to public health,” BOC Cagayan de Oro then issued warrants of seizure and detention against the illegal waste shipments from South Korea.

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The BOC further issued a reexportation order for the waste shipments citing violations of Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and Republic Act No. 6969.

The first batch of shipment, which included 51 40-foot containers of waste, was done last Jan. 13, 2019.

An additional 60 containers were shipped back to South Korea last month.

“The reexportation of the remaining waste from South Korea this month signifies our nation’s steadfastness to protect public health and the environment from the deceptive trade in hazardous waste disguised as plastic waste for recycling,” Simon said in a statement.

Waste trafficking

“As guardians of our ports, we are committed to curb illegal trade and halt all forms of customs fraud, including the practice of falsely declaring hazardous waste and other wastes as recyclables,” he added.

The environmental health group EcoWaste Coalition, which has been monitoring compliance with the bilateral agreement by the governments of the Philippines and South Korea for the reexport of the illegal waste consignments, welcomed this development.

Environment activists expressed hope that the last shipments would put an end to the practice of waste trafficking in the country.

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“The reexportation of the remaining wastes and the cleanup of the storage site in Tagoloan, which has become an open dumpsite for the South Korean rubbish, will help in bringing this controversy to a close,” said Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator.

Environment groups kept their optimism high as they joined the send off of the second to the last tranche of trash on Sunday.

To deter illegal traffic waste in the future, Lucero said “all those responsible for this mess should be fully held accountable in accordance with the rule of law.”

“These environmental justice measures will protect our country and our people from the negative consequences of global waste trade,” Lucero added.

She reiterated their group’s call for President Rodrigo Duterte to impose a total ban on imported waste and to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, an international law banning transfer of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries.

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TAGS: Bureau of Customs, Korean trash
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