A 2,400-ton chunk of the 5,000 tons of garbage illegally dumped in Misamis Oriental in 2018 was sent back to South Korea on Sunday, environmental group EcoWaste Coalition announced.
The group said in a statement sent to Coconuts Manila that the Northern Mindanao Customs Bureau organized a trash send-off ceremony at 10am yesterday at the Mindanao International Container Terminal. Over 35 representatives from EcoWaste and other environmental advocates witnessed the event.
The remaining mixed waste, which was falsely declared as “plastic synthetic fakes” (nice try, South Korea!), is expected to be sent back by Feb. 9.
John Simon, port collector of the Northern Mindanao Customs Bureau, said the return of the illegally dumped garbage shows the Philippines’ “readiness and resolve to bring this dumping controversy to its just conclusion. To stop this incident from happening again, I add my voice to the growing clamor to upgrade and strengthen our legal defense against waste dumping, including ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment.”
The Philippines has yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits the transfer of hazardous waste from developed countries to less-developed nations for whatever reasons, including recycling.
Tony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner at EcoWaste told Coconuts Manila over the phone that the reason the ratification has taken so long is that “it needs concurrence from government agencies, like the DENR [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] who represent us in international organizations.”
He added that the waste ban became international law on Dec. 5, 2019, “but the protocol is, every country still needs to ratify it for it to take effect. We believe [the documents] are already in the office of the president; after he signs it, [the] Senate needs to ratify it. These things can take a while — months, sometimes years — that’s why we need public pressure.”
Chinkie Peliño-Golle, Executive Director of the Davao City-based group Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability, said that the controversy surrounding South Korea’s illegally dumped trash has “reinforced the urgency of ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment and revising current regulations that permit waste imports into the country under the guise of ‘recycling.’ We need to plug the regulatory loopholes that waste traders are taking advantage of, which is turning our country, particularly Mindanao, into a convenient dumping site for plastic, electronic and other hazardous wastes.”
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