The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has lauded and thanked the Collection District 10 of the Bureau of Customs (BOC-10) for having successfully completed the repatriation of almost 6,400 metric tons of mixed wastes stranded in Misamis Oriental province to their origin in South Korea.

“The BOC-10 deserves all the credit for acting swiftly and decisively on the matter—from discovering the garbage shipment in 2018 to sending it back completely to its country of origin in just two years,” said DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda.

“With the successful return of the garbage shipment to South Korea, Filipinos were spared from the health and environmental hazards posed by the smuggled waste, and we have the BOC-10 to thank for that,” he added.

Antiporda issued the statement after receiving a memo from BOC-10 District Collector John Simon confirming that the process of returning the Korean waste had been completed last August 4.

Simon also reported that the 4.5-hectare area where around 5,000 metric tons of Korean garbage was previously dumped and buried is already cleared of smuggled waste.

Antiporda commended Simon and his collection district for working tirelessly to ensure that the trash is shipped back to South Korea even amid the quarantine restrictions imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“Despite COVID-19, the hardworking and dedicated BOC-10 district collector was able to facilitate the return of the smuggled waste and sent a message to the world that the Philippines is not a dumping ground of hazardous waste from other countries,” Antiporda said.

BOC-10 records showed the illegal waste imports were successfully returned to South Korea in six batches since January 2019.

It will be recalled that the garbage shipment was discovered by Simon’s office at the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) in 2018.

The shipment was consigned to South Korean company Verde Soko II Industrial Corp., which operates a waste recycling facility within the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan town.

At least three Korean nationals led by a certain Chul Soo Chu alias Charles Cho have been charged with violation of Republic Act (RA) 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act, and RA 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

In fact, the Misamis Oriental Regional Trial Court had already issued an arrest order against Cho and his co-accused, but they remain at large until now.

Records showed that a total of 321 containers filled with Korean waste arrived at the MCT between July and October 2018.

Upon inspection by the DENR, the shipment contained used dextrose tubes, used diapers, batteries, bulbs and electronic equipment.

The agency also said the shipment was not covered by any DENR-issued importation clearance. The consignee, Verde Soko, was not even registered as an importer of recyclable materials, it added.

Under the DENR policy, registered importers are required to secure the necessary import clearances from the DENR at least 30 days before the actual importation. #