CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 17 March) – The chair of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability on Friday issued a show cause order against officials of Verde Soko, importer of 6.5 tons of garbage from South Korea that were dumped in Misamis Oriental.
Verde Soko officials were a no-show at the public hearing, prompting Rep. Henry Oaminal (2nd district, Misamis Occidental), committee chair, to issue a show cause order against them.
“If still they will not appear before this committee, we will issue warrants of arrests against them,” he said.
The Committee held a public hearing here last Friday to investigate the dumping of 6,500 tons of garbage from Pyeongtek, South Korea, passed off as recyclable plastics. Out of this number, 1,400 tons of waste were returned to South Korea in January this year.
The first shipment of 5,100 tons (4.6 million kilos) arrived on July 21 last year and was immediately sent to the four-hectare facility of Verde Soko, in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Santa Cruz in Tagoloan. The second shipment of 51 container vans loaded with 1,400 (1.27 million kilos) tons arrived in the second week of August last year and was also brought to the same facility.
House members also moved to suspend Franklin Quijano, Administrator of the Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corporation (Phividec) Industrial Estate, a government-owned and controlled corporation; Efledo Resma, its port assistant manager; and former Cagayan de Oro Bureau of Customs Collector Floro Calixhan for allegedly allowing Verde Soko to import the garbage from South Korea.
Quijano, Resma and Calixhan denied the allegations, maintaining that Verde Soko imported recyclable plastic waste for its facility in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental.
Oaminal said the Committee will hold officials of Verde Soko responsible for bundling of the garbage in their facility. He said the South Korean government had promise to foot the shipping costs amounting to P45 million.
“The shipping requires the garbage wastes to be bundled into bags. Verde Soko should pay the. Otherwise, its is the Filipino people who will hold the empty bag eventually,’ he said.
South Korea paid the US $47,000 shipping costs that brought back 51 container vans containing 1,400 tons of garbage to their port of origin in Pyeongtaek, South Korea on January 13 this year.
John Simon, Bureau of Customs port collector said in January that in accordance with the Basel Convention, the container vans were to be shipped back to South Korea aboard M/V Kalliroe of Maerks Shipping at the expense of the South Korean government.
The Philippines and South Korea are signatories to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, more popularly referred to as the Basel Convention, designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries.
Simon said the return of the household waste to South Korea was a result of series of meetings that culminated in Cagayan de Oro on Dec. 26 and 27.
Rep. Lawrence Fortun (1st district, Agusan del Norte) said Calixhan told him Verde Soko officials are in constant communication with him.
Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano recommended that the house committee ask the Department of Foreign Affairs to send a strong note verbale to the South Korean government to stop dumping its garbage in the Philippines.
Alejano said this is the second time garbage from South Korea was discovered—the first here in Misamis Oriental and Cebu City where 25 tons of garbage were found late last year.
Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate also called for an investigation of Phivedec and BoC operations in Misamis Oriental.
“In their haste to earn money, Phivedec officials neglected to safeguard the interests of the people and here we are now, Misamis Oriental has become a dumping ground,” Zarate said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)