22 November 2018, Quezon City. After its protest action outside the Korean Embassy in Taguig City last November 15, the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health and justice group, today cheered the Korean government for confirming its commitment to take back the illegal garbage shipments languishing in Misamis Oriental.
The “Embassy of the Republic of Korea would like to inform you the government has taken action on the recent controversy of waste imported to the Philippines,” said the Embassy through an e-mail sent today to the EcoWaste Coalition.
According to the press release posted at the Embassy website (http://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ph-en/brd/m_20312/view.do?seq=14), the Korean government “would take measures to have the wastes in question be brought back to Korea as soon as possible.”
South Korea’s government action drew immediate cheers from the EcoWaste Coalition, which last November 15 picketed the Embassy unveiling a banner that says “Please take your garbage back” in English and Korean. Dubbed as K-BOP (Korea: Basura Out of the Philippines) action, the protest attracted wide media coverage in the Philippines as well as in Korea.
“We commend the action taken by the Korean government to get this dumping controversy resolved without delay. This early, we say ‘kamsa hamnida’ to Korea for doing the right thing and for respecting our nation’s right not to be treated as their waste bin,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“We laud the probe conducted by the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Korea Customs Service, which further confirmed the illegal nature of the controversial garbage shipments and the need to get them repatriated to Korea straight away. This, we hope, will lead to the Korean government strengthening its regulatory controls to ensure that garbage dumping in the Philippines will not happen again. Considering the huge increase in Korean waste sent to the Philippines, the Korean government must prevent future waste shipments,” she added.
“We will maintain our vigilance until the last ton of garbage is sent back to Korea, until the culprits are charged and held liable, and until environmental justice reigns,” Lucero pointed out.
This welcomed development drew quick comparison between Korea’s and Canada’s response to the foreign garbage dumping incidents that hit the Philippines.
“We could not help but compare Korea’s response to the dumping issue, and Canada’s unhurried and irresolute response. In fact, Canada’s unwanted wastes, which entered the country illegally in 2013, are still sitting in our ports,” Lucero said. Twenty-six of the 103 container vans of Canada’s garbage were illegally buried in a private landfill in Tarlac in 2015.
Below is the complete press release from the Government of Korea regarding this matter:
The imported waste to the Philippines to be brought back to Korea
The Government of the Republic of Korea—the Ministry of Environment, the Korea Customs Service, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—has embarked on the investigation of a Korean exporter which caused a controversy in the Philippines this month; the Government stated that it would take measures to have the wastes in question be brought back to Korea as soon as possible.
As the Bureau of Customs of the Philippines uncovered last July illegal plastic wastes which was exported from Korea, Korea’s Ministry of Environment and the Customs Service jointly inspected the exporter of the wastes in question, located in Pyeongtaek City, on November 16. The exporter in question made export declaration on waste synthetic highly polymerized compound in January 2018.
The joint inspection of the exporter’s business site found plastic wastes mixed with significant amount of alien materials such as waste wood/metals and trashes which had not gone through an appropriate recycling process.
As the joint inspection team opened the exporter’s container in the nearby warehouse, waiting to be shipped, wastes in the same condition—mixed with large amount of alien materials—as the one found in the aforementioned business site were discovered.
Since the Ministry of Environment and the Korea Customs Service confirmed that the exporter had exported wastes which had not gone through proper recycling process and were different from it declared in its export declaration and that documents required for export was forged, they have taken measures against related violations of law.
The Ministry of Environment on November 21 initiated legal procedure to have the wastes in question in the Philippines be brought back in accordance with Article 20 of the Law on Cross-border movement and Disposal of Wastes—Prior Notice of Repatriation Order—and embarked on investigation of the violation of Article 18-2 of the said law—False Export Declaration.
The Korea Customs Service is investigating the exporter in question for the possibility of its exporting of wastes with illegitimately prepared export documentation. The Customs Service also took a step to forbid the shipment of goods in question waiting to be shipped.
Relevant authorities of Korea will have the wastes in question be repatriated and properly disposed and work to prevent recurrence of the problem.