BOC to ship back 6,000 metric tons of garbage to South Korea

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog group, gave the Bureau of Customs (BOC) two thumbs up for keeping its promise to ship back the remaining illegal plastic waste imports from South Korea dumped in Misamis Oriental since July 2018.

BOC-10 District Collector John Simon through a text advisory announced that the re-exportation of some 6,000 metric tons of contaminated plastic waste wrongly declared as “plastic synthetic flakes” will be finally concluded this week.  

It will be recalled that customs authorities issued in 2018 an Order of Forfeiture and Order of Re-Exportation against these illegal waste imports by Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp., which arrived in Northern Mindanao in bulk and containerized shipments.

BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero had earlier assured the Filipino people through a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III last April “that the Bureau will undertake all the necessary means, within the bounds of law, in order to expedite the re-exportation of these wastes.”

In a message sent to the EcoWaste Coalition, Simon confirmed the last shipment of 80 containers of South Korean waste will be returned to Pyeongtaek City on Tuesday, August 4 via BF MAHIA (a container ship).

“The re-exportation of the last batch of smuggled waste imports from South Korea amid the COVID-19 pandemic shows our firm resolve to protect the national interest against the illegal traffic of waste. I personally would like to recognize and thank our partners in the public and private sectors, including the EcoWaste Coalition and other groups, for this successful collaboration to ship out these illicit imports,” said Simon.

“However, our fight is far from over,” clarified Simon. “We still need to assess the damage done to the environment and to hold responsible parties liable, while laws  and regulations are crafted or strengthened disallowing the transfer of wastes from other countries into our land,” he pointed out. 

“The BOC, particularly in Region 10, will keep our vigilance to prevent, detect and control unlawful imports that can jeopardize our people‘s health and the environment,” he emphasized.

The fulfillment of BOC’s pledge to ship back the illegal waste imports in line with the Basel Convention was lauded by the EcoWaste Coalition which had organized “return to sender” protest activities in 2018 outside the Embassy of South Korea in Taguig City and the BOC headquarters in Manila City.

The EcoWaste Coalition also had the opportunity of representing the civil society in the bilateral meetings held between the governments of the Philippine and South Korea in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental to address the re-exportation of waste deemed to be illegal traffic.   

“The final re-shipment of the remaining South Korean trash is a big win for environmental justice and a strong affirmation of the rule of law,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “Two thumbs up for the BOC and all the stakeholders, including the political leaders of Misamis Oriental and their constituents, for insisting on the obligation of the state of export to take back the waste shipments in question.  Our united stance to protect our people’s health and the environment from the deleterious impacts of waste trafficking made this huge feat possible.  Collector John Simon acted with commendable integrity and speed and we would like to put that on record.”   

As per BOC-10’s records, the illegal waste imports from South Korea were successfully returned to their origin in several batches beginning  January 2019.

The re-export of 80 containers of these unlawful imports this coming Tuesday would bring to 331 the total number of containers filled with garbage sent back to South Korea.

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