19 November 2018
Environmental groups led by Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) and BAN Toxics have added their voices to the growing clamor to return 51,000 tons of garbage dumped from South Korea and impose stiff penalties on the perpetrators, calling for a diplomatic protest and the immediate ratification of a ban on importing waste in a press conference held today.
“We would like to call on President Duterte to expedite the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment, an international treaty that prohibits transboundary disposal of wastes,” BAN Toxics Advocacy and Campaigns Specialist Anna Kapunan said. “The ratification will protect the Philippines from being a dump ground of any country.”
“We call on environment officials to immediately recommend to the Department of Foreign Affairs the filing of a diplomatic protest before South Korea. This is a repeated modus that the Duterte government continues to neglect, as around 25,000 metric tons of waste from South Korea was also dumped in Cebu last year,” said Kalikasan PNE national coordinator Leon Dulce.
Documents from the South Korean consignee Verde Soko II Philippine Industrial Corporation declared the cargo shipped to a port in Misamis Oriental to be synthetic plastic flakes. However, reports by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) disclosed that it was full of assorted wastes such as batteries, electric equipment, and used diapers and dextrose, all of which are deemed hazardous to health.
Both the Philippines and South Korea has yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, an amendment to the international treaty on transboundary waste that will allow countries to fully prohibit the entry of any type of waste into their sovereign territory. The Amendment still lacks the number of ratifications necessary to implement it in force.
“We must not consent to this kind of treatment,” Ms. Kapunan stated. “This is clearly a violation of our fellow Filipino’s environmental rights. The presence of hazardous wastes among the heterogenous garbage from South Korea is added salt to the wound for us.”
The groups also called for a legislative investigation into the waste importation problem, noting that the repeated problems from Canada’s waste dumping in 2013 to 2014 and the first batch of trash dumped by South Korea last year showed the problem was systemic.
“We urge our lawmakers to launch a full-scale inquiry into the procedural anomalies to unearth which part of the bureaucracy keeps providing consent smuggled trash and what their motives are. There is concern that repeated trash shipments are possibly being used for smuggling runs of illegal goods given recent high-profile smuggling scandals exposed to the public,” Mr. Dulce ended.#