THE EcoWaste Coalition, an environment and public health watchdog, commended the South Korean government for giving assurances that it will take back the tons of garbage that was shipped from Pyeongtaek City.
In a press release dated Nov. 21, the South Korean government said “…it would take measures to have the wastes in question be brought back to Korea as soon as possible.”
The South Korean government, through its embassy, informed the EcoWaste Coalition about its commitment to take back its toxic waste via e-mail following its peaceful mass action in front of its diplomatic office last November 15. A letter was delivered to Ambassador Han Dong-man urging his government to take back its misdeclared mixed garbage which is now stored in Misamis Oriental.
“We commend the action taken by the Korean government to get this dumping controversy resolved without delay. This early, we say ‘kamsa hamnida’ to Korea for doing the right thing and for respecting our nation’s right not to be treated as their waste bin,” said EcoWaste Coalition National Coordinator Aileen Lucero.
“We laud the probe conducted by the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Korea Customs Service, which further confirmed the illegal nature of the controversial garbage shipments and the need to get them repatriated to Korea straight away,” she added.
A joint inspection by the Korean Ministry of Environment and Customs Service of the exporter’s business site and warehouse found plastic garbage waiting to be shipped mixed with large amount of waste wood, metal and residuals that have not gone through appropriate recycling process.
“This, we hope, will lead to the Korean government strengthening its regulatory controls to ensure that garbage dumping in the Philippines will not happen again. Considering the huge increase in Korean waste sent to the Philippines, the Korean government must prevent future waste shipments,” Lucero said.
“We will maintain our vigilance until the last ton of garbage is sent back to Korea, until the culprits are charged and held liable, and until environmental justice reigns,” she emphasized.
The Ministry of Environment on November 21 initiated legal procedure to have the wastes in question in the Philippines be brought back in accordance with Article 20 of the Law on Cross-border movement and Disposal of Wastes—Prior Notice of Repatriation Order—and embarked on investigation of the violation of Article 18-2 of the said law—False Export Declaration, the South Korean government’s press release said.
“The Korea Customs Service is investigating the exporter in question for the possibility of its exporting of wastes with illegitimately prepared export documentation. The Customs Service also took a step to forbid the shipment of goods in question waiting to be shipped,” it added.
Moreover, the South Korean government said it will take steps to ensure that no similar incident will happen in the future.
“Relevant authorities of Korea will have the wastes in question be repatriated and properly disposed and work to prevent recurrence of the problem,” the government assured.
This welcomed development drew quick comparison between Korea’s and Canada’s response to the foreign garbage dumping incidents that hit the Philippines.
“We could not help but compare Korea’s response to the dumping issue, and Canada’s unhurried and irresolute response. In fact, Canada’s unwanted wastes, which entered the country illegally in 2013, are still sitting in our ports,” Lucero said.
Twenty-six of the 103 container vans of Canada’s garbage were illegally buried in a private landfill in Tarlac in 2015 drawing protest from various quarters.