“The Palace reiterates the firm position of the Republic of the Philippines, that it will not allow its territory to be treated as a dumping ground for trash by any foreign country or entity,” Panelo added.
KJ Rosales
Palace: Philippines not other countries’ dumping ground
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - May 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is not a dumping ground of Canada or any other country, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday, after authorities seized mixed plastic waste from Hong Kong recently.

“The Palace reiterates the firm position of the Republic of the Philippines, that it will not allow its territory to be treated as a dumping ground for trash by any foreign country or entity,” Panelo added.

Malacañang also commended the Bureau of Customs for intercepting the attempt to bring in mixed plastic scrap, shredded electronics and residual waste materials from Hong Kong. 

The 25 tons of mixed waste came amid President Duterte’s outcry against Canada for the slow-paced processing of the return of trash to Ottawa.

“We commend the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for the early detection of the entry of mixed plastic wastes, which have been declared ‘assorted electronic accessories,’ from Hong Kong into Misamis Oriental, Philippines,” Panelo said.

Just like what happened in the Canada trash, Panelo said the administration would order the return of the illegal shipment back to Hong Kong.

“We understand that the BOC would export this illegal shipment back to its port of origin. We call on concerned agencies of the government to continue exercising vigilance and hinder the entry of such shipments of garbage into our territorial jurisdiction at the first instance,” he added.

BOC Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT) collector John Simon said they would coordinate with the Australian embassy and the Hong Kong consulate and discuss the return of the garbage that arrived at the Tagoloan port in Misamis Oriental port.

He revealed that aside from the seven containers that arrived last May 7 from Australia, there had been 70 other containers described to be “processed engineering fuel (PEF)” that came in. 

“I would have wanted to return these container vans by tomorrow but there is a process that we have to follow,” he said, referring to the shipment of containers declared as shredded “municipal waste” and “processed engineered fuel” as well as a single container filled with e-waste back to Hong Kong.

In July and August last year, 51 container vans from South Korea filled with plastic trash arrived at the MICT. Simon was able to send these back to South Korea last January. 

In the case of the suspected garbage from Australia and Hong Kong, he said that before these shipments are returned, there is a need to “fix our position.”

“What I want is for the Filipinos to have a common position before we face other countries,” he added.

In a report last May 23, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environment Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) allegedly said that the PEF is used for cement production. The EMB also reportedly said it has “no objection to its importation and to be used as an alternative fuel in cement production.”

In the case of the suspected garbage from Australia, the collector said they suspect some 70 containers, declared to be municipal waste and PEF, arrived at the MICT months ago. The latest importation was last May 7 with seven containers also described as municipal waste and PEF.

“They made two mistakes. The first and biggest mistake was their declaration. These shipments were declared to be ‘municipal waste’ and PEF. In the eyes of Customs, these are two different things… There is also no mention of ‘process engineered fuel’ in the Customs’ Tariff books, and while there is a mention of ‘municipal waste’ in the Tariff Book its importation is not allowed,” Simon said. 

These shipments were consigned to Holcim Philippines, a cement company. They use PEF as an alternative fuel in producing cement, explaining that their importations are “low-grade fuel” and not garbage.

The BOC said a warrant of seizure and detention would be issued against the shipments in violation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, RA 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act, RA 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act and Section 1400 of RA 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. – With Evelyn Macairan

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