The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will not allow the Philippines to become a dumping site of other countries’ waste materials.
The BOC filed smuggling charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday against the importer of 50 container vans containing tons of garbage from Canada that were misdeclared as scrap plastic materials for recycling.
BOC chief John Sevilla said that the case they have filed before the DOJ was different from the usual under-declaration and misdeclaration, but a violation of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP), including provisions of environmental laws.
Under the Republic Act 6969, the importation of hazardous materials is banned, while the TCCP holds an importer criminally liable for unlawful importations.
“Hinding-hindi tayo dapat pumayag at hinding-hindi po papayag ang Customs na maging basurahan dito,” Sevilla said in a press conference on Thursday at the DOJ.
Sevilla said that the BOC is eyeing penalizing the exporter from the garbage’s country of origin, noting that they are coordinating with the Canadian embassy.
The BOC has filed charges against Adelfa Eduardo, owner and of Chronic Plastics, a firm based in Canumay, Valenzuela City, and the company’s licensed customs brokers Leonora Flores and Sherjun Saldon for violating Sections 3601 and 3602 of the TCCP; Republic Act (RA) 6969, otherwise known as the Toxic Substance and Hazardous Wastes and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990; and Article 172 in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.
“It is very clear that these waste materials were shipped to the Philippines illegally.
There were violations in the process for importation and misdeclaration made on paper. Moreover, we must be mindful of the threat to public health and safety that these wastes could bring to our people,” said Sevilla.
The container vans arrived in six batches from June to August 2013 at the Manila International Container Port and were subsequently seized by Customs Police and operatives of the Enforcement Group after a spot inspection revealed that these contained used mixed and unsorted or “heterogeneous” plastic materials, including household garbage and even used adult diapers, and not homogeneous or recyclable plastic scrap materials as declared by the importer.
The importers even declared a total value of P3.9 million for 19 of the containers.
Chronic Plastic is a 150-man operation in Valenzuela that is engaged in the sorting and selling of recyclable materials shipped from Canada.