THE tons of garbage illegally transported from South Korea to the country will be returned to its origin before the year ends.
This was the assurance of the Bureau of Customs which was welcomed by environmental groups EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace which put pressure on the agency through a peaceful protest rally.
Last Wednesday, the EWC said that BoC spokesman Atty. Erastus Sandino Austria came out of his office and met the protesting group where he assured the demonstrators that necessary steps are being taken by Customs authorities to resolve the trash imports and bring it back to South Korea.
“Message heard, loud and clear,” Austria told the EcoWaste Coalition, referring to the group’s non-violent action at the Port Area in Manila to push for the speedy repatriation of the misdeclared garbage as demanded by the provincial government of Misamis Oriental, the municipal government of Togoloan, and environment groups.
The BoC official according to the EWC also relayed a message that the customs officials through the Collection District of Cagayan de Oro had already initiated talks with the government of South Korea to fast track the re-export of the waste shipments to the place of origin — Pyeongtaek City.
“We laud Atty. Austria for accepting our invitation for him to address our assembly, and for confirming that efforts are underway to get the Korean garbage shipped back to where it should be. However, we seek a specific date for the re-export of garbage to Korea. The overstaying garbage from Canada provides a compelling reason why a defined date should be set and adhered to,” the environmental group said.
The EWC said they are hoping that the re-export process would not be stalled by bureaucratic excuses.
“By the time any probe is conducted by the House of Representatives or the Senate, we hope the illegal garbage shipments would already be out of the Philippines and the places where these were dumped safely cleaned up,” EWC coordinator Aileen Lucero said.
Senators Koko Pimentel, Nancy Binay and Grace Poe have filed separate resolutions calling for an inquiry on the matter in aid of legislation. Iligan City Representative Fredrick Siao has likewise proposed a congressional inquiry.