BFFP: Philippines is ‘off limits to trash imports’
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine members of the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP), a global movement against plastic pollution, on Wednesday commended the swift and decisive action of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in returning back to South Korea garbage dumped in the country, saying it sends a strong message that the Philippines is “off limits to trash imports.”
“Developing countries like the Philippines are not dumping grounds for the wastes of developed countries,” Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Philippines Campaigner, said in a statement.
“By returning these shipments to South Korea, the Philippines is sending a strong message against unscrupulous waste traders that our shores are off limits to plastic trash imports,” she added.
The illegal shipments of mixed wastes, which arrived in the country last July and October 2018, was misdeclared as “plastic flakes” and came without proper importation permits. The shipments yielded a mix of plastic wastes, paper, metal, rubber, and other materials.
The BOC concluded that it was a case of waste dumping by the Korean company, Green Soko Co. Ltd.
Aguilar noted that exporters of mixed waste shipments usually misdeclare their cargo to escape laws and agreements against waste dumping.
“Exporters of these mixed waste shipments typically misdeclare their cargo or hide behind the veil of recycling to circumvent national laws and agreements that prohibit waste dumping,” she said.
Beau Baconguis, Regional Plastics Campaigner, GAIA Asia Pacific and BFFP member called on Southeast Asian countries to “strengthen their safeguard” against importation of plastic waste and to strictly enforce policies against transboundary waste shipment.
“It is unfair for these developed countries to export their waste to Asia and then have the gall to call Asia as the world’s biggest plastic polluters,” Baconguis said in a statement.
However, as the Philippines lauded the repatriation of the South Korean waste, local eco-groups also urged Canada to take back their waste that have been in the country far longer.
“While we laud the move of the Philippine government to repatriate this illegal shipment of waste from South Korea, we are closely monitoring until the entire process of repatriation is completed. We also urge the public to remain vigilant of future illegal waste shipment in the country. Asia is not any rich country’s dumping ground. We are not their “away,” Baconguis said.
Aileen Lucero of Eco Waste Coalition said that with the repatriation of the waste shipment to Korea, the country is saying “no” to the derogation of the Philippines’s dignity and sovereignty, to the disrespect of national and international laws, and to the harm that it will bring to the country.
“By saying ‘no’ to garbage dumping from Korea and other countries, we say ‘no’ to the derogation of our country’s dignity and sovereignty, ‘no’ to the disrespect for national and international laws, and ‘no’ to the harm they will bring to our communities,” Aileen Lucero, Eco Waste Coalition said in an earlier statement. /muf
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