Keep out foreign trash — solon

FEARING more Philippine-bound foreign garbage, a veteran solon is calling for a stricter inspection of imports entering the ports.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza is proposing compulsory pre-shipment inspection of containerized imports to stop illegal trash cargo from abroad.

Atienza has warned of a likely increase in containerized foreign garbage shipments headed to the Philippines in the months ahead.

“We’ve been targeted as a dumping ground owing to our inadequate controls at various ports of entry,” Atienza said.

“North America and Europe are looking for new destinations for their unwanted materials after China banned the importation of used plastics and other recyclables,” he added.

According to Atienza, Chinese recyclers used to import and process much of the Western world’s reusable waste.

But Atienza said that China’s “National Sword” policy, adopted in January 2018, put Chinese recyclers out of business.  

“Just like prohibited drugs, contaminated trash in shipping containers are sneaking into our ports mainly due to corruption and ineffective checks,” he said.

Festering waste issue

Responding to the query of Ecowaste Coalition (EWC) on the supposed eight container vans of wastes left behind after tons of illegal garbage were sent back to Canada, Bureau of Customs Spokesperson Erastus Sandino Austria said that out of the 103 shipping containers of Canadian garbage, 34 were locally disposed of while the remaining 69 containers were shipped back to Canada on May 31 on boardMV Bavaria.

On May 15, EWC filed an online Freedom of Information request to press the BOC to divulge information pertaining to the local disposal of the eight containers, which the group also forwarded to Austria.

Austria then referred the matter to the “BOC-focal person on the Canada Wastes matter thru the Inter-agency Committee Secretariat of the Bureau of Customs for their appropriate action.”

“Rest assured that the matter is being looked into and verified with concerned offices,” wrote Customs Operations Officer Genilyn Minardo in response to the forwarded message by Austria from the waste and pollution group.

The slowness in getting the requested information, which should be readily available in the BOC database, is making environmental advocates more curious as to how and where the wastes in eight containers were disposed of.

With Joel dela Torre