4.63M kilo wastes stored in Misamis Oriental to be shipped back to South Korea

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 15 June) — Philippine officials have rejected proposals from the South Korean government to burn or dump the remaining 5,100 tons (4.63 million kilos) of household wastes left in open facility in Villanueva town, Misamis Oriental.

South Korean Director General of the Ministry of Environment Young Dae Jeung presented these proposals to the Philippine officials during a meeting at the Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental on Thursday.

Jeung offered Philippine officials three proposals: burn the wastes by incinerator that would be constructed by South Korea or bury the wastes in a landfill to be constructed also by South Korea.

A Bureau of Customs official opens a container van filled with garbage from South Korea at the Mindanao Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental on Sunday, January 13, 2019. Fifty-one container vans containing 1,400 tons (1.27 million kilos) of garbage are being shipped back to Pyeongtaek, South Korea, their port of origin. But 5,100 tons of waste still await shipment back to South Korea. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of the Ecowaste Coalition, said Philippine officials rejected out right the first two proposals and opted for the third proposal which was to repatriate the garbage back to South Korean in accordance with the Basel Convention.

“We laud the firm stance of customs and environmental officials in the region to have the illegal traffic waste re-exported to its source in South Korea.  The Basel Convention imposes an obligation on the State of Export to ensure the return of wastes deemed to constitute ‘illegal traffic’,” Lucero said.

Lucero said that under this convention, the obligation of the State of Export to manage the illegal traffic waste “in an environmentally sound manner may not under any circumstances be transferred to the State of Import or transit.”

The Philippine officials were led by Customs port collector John Simon and Rep. Juliet Uy, (1st district, Misamis Oriental) attended the meeting that lasted from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.

Misamis Oriental provincial board member Gerardo Sabal said he also rejected the first two proposals especially since the proposed landfill would be made inside the province.

Neither is an incinerator a good idea, Sabal said because it violates the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999.

“Those two proposals are out of question because it will still be constructed in our province,” he said.

The household waste in Tagoloan town came in two shipments misdeclared as “plastic synthetic wastes” in July and August 2018.

The first shipment of 5,100 tons arrived on July 21, 2018 and was immediately sent to the four-hectare facility of the shipper, Verde Soko, in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Santa Cruz in Tagoloan.

The second shipment of 51 container vans loaded with 1,400 tons (1.27 million kilos) arrived in the second week of August last year and was also brought to the same facility.

The shipment caused an uproar among local government officials as residents of Sitio Buguac started complaining of foul smell from the facility.

On January 14 this year, 51 container vans containing 1,400 tons of garbage were loaded on a cargo ship for return to their port of origin in Pyeongtaek, South Korea

Activists from the Ecowaste Coalition, an environmental NGO, stage a rally at the Mindanao Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental on Sunday, 13 January 2019, where 51 container vans containing 1,400 tons (1.27 million kilos) of garbage  are being shipped back to Pyeongtaek, South Korea their port of origin. But 5,100 tons of waste still await shipment back to South Korea. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Lucero said Philippine and South Korean officials agreed on the third proposal which was to ship the wastes back to Pyeongtaek, its port of origin.

She said the Philippines agreed to cover all costs concerning repacking, containerizing, transporting the waste from the Verde Soko facility in Villanueva town to the container port terminal in Tagoloan town; and also customs clearing.

Lucero said the South Korean government agreed to shoulder the costs of shipping from the port of Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental to Korea.

“Both parties agreed that this incident was caused by an illegal exporter in South Korea and an illegal importer in the Philippines,” she said.

The cost of repacking the wastes into sling bags, placing them in container vans and transporting from the Verde Soko facility to the port is estimated to be  P7 million.

The shipping costs from the port of Tagoloan to Pyeongtaek, South Korea is  estimated to be P10 million and will be shouldered by their government.

Sabal said Verde Soko’s President, Niel Alburo, promised to shoulder the cost of repacking.

He said F2 Logistics, the trucking company that brought the wastes to the Verde Soko also agreed to shoulder the cost of transportation.

“Their compliance will favor them considerably especially that criminal cases have been filed and warrants for arrests have been issued against them,” Sabal said.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Northern Mindanao filed criminal charges against Alburo and the directors of Verde Soko, the importer of the wastes.

A court in Misamis Oriental issued arrest warrants against Alburo and seven other company directors for alleged violations of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (RA 10863) and Toxic and Hazardous Waste Act (RA 6969).

Alburo and his co-accused have posted bail for their temporary liberty. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)

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