A shipload of 25,000 metric tons of waste from South Korea was uncovered by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) in the Port of Cebu.
The discovery was reminiscent of the shipment of waste products from Canada and Japan that were sent to the Philippines several years back.
Based on the alert order issued by Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, the waste shipment was misdeclared as “solid granular particles of wood chips and synthetic resin.”
The trash was carried by the MV Christina from the Republic of Korea. It arrived at the Cebu port on January 21, 2017.
Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Director Neil Anthony Estrella said they learned about the waste shipment because of the foul smell emanating from the cargo vessel.
“It stinks. It’s not good. It’s a health hazard,” Estrella told The Manila Times.
He said 100 metric tons have been unloaded from the vessel.
The Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is analyzing the waste determine if it is hazardous or not.
The consignee of the shipment was identified by Estrella as Moving Forward Global Trading Inc. with office address at Robinland Forward Global Trading Inc., Zuelleg, NRA, Cebu City, while the broker was a certain Romer F. Gastador of Blk. 2, Lot 3, F. Jaca St., Saint Michael Subd., Upper Inayawan, Cebu City.
An internal investigation is ongoing to determine if some customs personnel are in cahoots with the consignee and broker.
“The broker has already confessed to me. There were at least three customs personnel involved, including one who is occupying a supervisory level position,” Estrella disclosed.
“Aside from filing charges, we are making sure that the accreditation of the company or companies engaged in the importation of waste products are cancelled,” he said.
Charges of violation of Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization Tariff Act of 2015, among others, will be filed against the consignee and broker while Customs officials involved will face criminal and administrative charges.
Estrella said the BoC will coordinate with other government agencies so that the waste materials will be returned to South Korea.
This is not the first time that waste materials were exported to the Philippines by South Korea. Officials in Mandaue City also earlier discovered imported waste materials from Korea dumped by a private company in a rented lot in the city.
“We are now tracing the paper trail and other documents pertaining to that,” Estrella said.
In 2013, 55 container vans of imported waste from Canada were uncovered by Customs authorities. They were declared as scrap plastic materials for recycling but were found to contain rotting household waste and soggy paper.
In 1999, 120 container vans of trash from Japan were also discovered by Customs authorities.
But unlike the Canadian government which refused to accept the return of its waste, Japan chartered a ship to take back the trash shipment.