Return to Sender: Cebu NGOs join clamor for the immediate return of over 5,000 tons of mixed garbage imports from South Korea that are languishing in Misamis Oriental, insisting that the Philippines is not a garbage dump of rich countries.
20 November 2018, Cebu City/Quezon City. Environmental, labor, community and youth activists based in Cebu Province have joined growing public clamor for the immediate return to South Korea of mixed garbage imports that were wrongly declared as “plastic synthetic flakes.”
The over 5,000 tons of plastic garbage mixed with hazardous materials from South Korea have been sitting at the Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental since July 21, 2018, and are now the subject of a government investigation, as well as protest from various quarters.
This case of foreign waste dumping in Northern Mindanao is reminiscent of the 2017 South Korean garbage dumping scandal in Mandaue City, the activists noted.
At the sidelines of an environmental conference held yesterday at the University of Cebu Banilad, 65 participants unveiled a banner that says “please take your garbage back” as they shouted “Ang Pilipinas dili dumpsite alang sa Korean nga basura” (Philippines is not a dumpsite for Korean trash).
“We join the entire nation in demanding for the quick re-export of the Korean garbage back to its origin. As one people, let us tell rich countries that we are not the garbage capital of the world,” said Fernan Rabago of the Gagmayng Kristohanong Katilingban Homeowners Association.
“Governments of countries exporting their rubbish to the Philippines under the cover of plastic recycling, like Canada and South Korea, should take firm action to stop ships carrying container vans loaded with trash from leaving their ports and reaching our shores,” said Jessie Tabano of the Ligdung Sumabanan Alang sa mga Kabataan sa Sugbo.
To fast track the return of the South Korean garbage, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, appealed to the Bureau of Customs, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other agencies to ensure a “coordinated, unified and transparent response” to the dumping controversy.
“A coordinated, unified and transparent response is essential to make sure that these unwanted garbage shipments from South Korea will not suffer the same fate as the illegal waste imports from Canada in 2013 that are still rotting in our territory,” said Lucero, who was in Cebu for the said environmental conference.
Lucero cited Cebu’s customs, environmental and local government authorities for acting in a synchronized fashion, which eventually led to the immediate return of the mixed garbage shipments from South Korea in early 2017.
It will be recalled that on January 20, 2017, some 5,000 metric tons of mixed wastes, misrepresented as “solid granular particles of wood chips and synthetic resin” entered the Port of Cebu on board MV Christina and were subsequently dumped at Barangay Tingub in Mandaue City.
The dumped wastes were swiftly returned to South Korea almost two weeks after the government of Mandaue City learned about it from furious residents who complained about the reeking garbage in their barangay.