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Goodbye basura! Revoluting e-wastes sent back to Hong Kong

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — The ship carrying 2.561 tons of electronic wastes from Hong Kong on Monday left the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) sub-port in Tagoloan, Misamis Orient on its way back to its port of origin.

The cargo, consisting mainly of shredded gadget parts and plastic scraps and packed in 22 huge sling bags, arrived at the MCT on February 2 this year but was held by the Bureau of Customs-10 (BOC-10) for “misdeclaration.”

The consignee, Crowd Win Industrial Limited Corp. based in Pasay City, declared the shipment as “assorted electronic accessories” but the actual content of the container van turned out to be smashed components of electronic devices, the BOC-10 said.

On March 5, BOC-10 issued a warrant of seizure and detention for violation of Section 1400 (misdeclaration) in relation to Section 117 (lack of import permit) of Republic Act 1086 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

The imported garbage was shipped back to its point of origin on board the cargo ship SITC Nagoya.

The re-exportation of the waste from Hong Kong came on the heels of the long overdue departure of the 69 container vans of Canadian garbage after languishing in the Philippines for six years, EcoWaste Coalition said in a statement.

“The export of this hazardous waste from Hong Kong in the guise of ‘assorted electronic accessories’ is illegal under the laws of Hong Kong and the Philippines and the Basel Convention,” MCT sub-port collector John Simon told reporters following the send-off ceremony of the Chinese trash at the MCT Monday morning.

“It’s simple. They want to make us their dumping ground. But they did not prevail. This is a victory for the Filipinos,” Simon said, adding that if the Chinese trash was not intercepted by Customs authorities, 70 more container vans containing the same type of waste would have entered the MCT sub-port.

He said the e-wastes’ smell is “revolting” and are considered to be highly dangerous due to the high chemical content.

“In line with the mission of the [BOC] to strengthen efforts against smuggling and other Customs fraud, we are returning this unlawful shipment to protect our nation’s health and the environment,” he added.

Lawyer Mark Petalver, program coordinator of the Davao City-based environmental group Interface Development Interventions Inc. said in a statement that he finds it “very disturbing” that illegal waste cargoes are entering the country through the region’s ports.

“This alarming trend is totally unacceptable and should discontinue as soon as possible. Mindanao is not a garbage bin,” Petalver said.

Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator, said that by quickly returning the illegal waste shipment and skipping bureaucratic delay “our nation is sending a clear and unambiguous warning to waste traffickers to stop sending other countries’ wastes into our ports.”

The strong presence of local civil society groups in this important event, Lucero said: “indicates a growing concern among Mindanaoans against the use of the region’s ports as entry points for waste imports from overseas. We encourage them, the local authorities and the general public to keep a close watch over illegal waste traffic in the region.”

Aside from the garbage from Hong Kong, South Korea, and Australia have also exported their trash to the Philippines, which would have been used for recycling and cement manufacturing, respectively, had Customs approved their release. (PNA)

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