CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 3 Jan) – Tons of household wastes and shredded plastic dumped at the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT) in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental will be shipped back to its port of origin in South Korea next week, officials here said.
But although earlier reports said all the 6,500 tons of garbage will be brought back to Pyeongtaek in South Korea on January 9, provincial board member Gerardo Sabal said in an interview Thursday that only 1,400 tons could be shipped back.
He said that the rest were already scattered at the compound of the Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp., the consignee, within the compound of the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan.
A statement issued by EcoWaste Coalition on Wednesday said the decision to send back the garbage came after a bilateral meeting with South Korean and Philippine officials in Tagoloan last week.
“We expect the 51 garbage-filled containers stored at MICT to be homebound by January 9 provided that all regulatory requirements are readily available,” John Simon, the Bureau of Customs’s port collector at MICT, told reporters in Manila.
The 51 container vans were the second controversial shipment to arrive in Misamis Oriental August last year.
The first and bigger shipment of 5,100 tons arrived last July 21. The order to ship back garbage to South Korea does not cover this bigger shipment, according to Sabal.
Simon said they found that the shipment consignee, Verde Soko, failed to secure proper import permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and misdeclared the garbage shipments as “plastic synthetic flakes.”
The dumping of alleged wastes caused an uproar among residents in Misamis Oriental and environmentalists.
The Tagoloan Municipal Council has passed a resolution “strongly condemning the importation of plastic mixed with hazardous waste materials from South Korea
The Misamis Oriental provincial board filed a resolution on November 15, 2018 asking Philippine congress to investigate the alleged dumping.
“How come the shipment was off-loaded when the consignee had no import license?” Sabal asked.
He said the first shipment of 5,100 tons placed inside “one-ton white canvas bags” arrived last July 21.
He said the bags were brought to the four-hectare facility of Verde Soko in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Santa Cruz, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
A month later, Sabal said another 51 container vans arrived and also brought to their facility.
“But their workers were careless. They left the garbage spilled on the roads and the river in Tagoloan, alarming the residents,” Sabal said.
He said the local government conducted an investigation after residents reported it to the authorities.
Sabal said when they inspected the facility they found bundles of garbage and trash like wood, dextrose tubes, used diapers, batteries, and metals.
“It was so smelly when we opened the vans and the bags. There was dirty sludge oozing from the container vans and bags,” he said.
EcoWaste national coordinator Aileen Lucero said they found it outrageous that the shipments were able to enter the ports of the Philippines.
“We look ahead to the imminent return of the Korean mixed garbage shipments to their source,” Lucero said.
Engr. Neil Alburo, president of Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp., denied that the shipments were garbage wastes.
He said the shipments were raw and sheared materials from South Korea intended for the manufacturing of plastic pellets and bricks at the firm’s newly built recycling plant.
He said the firm is also willing to have the waste materials shipped back to its origin if told to do so.
Sabal said that the $47,000 cost of shipping the 1,400 tons of garbage back to Korea will be shouldered by the South Korean government. But he said that succeeding shipments would still be an issue as the South Korean government is demanding that Verde Soko will have to pay, too. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)