BOC told to create team vs waste imports
(The Philippine Star) – July 12, 2019 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) has ordered the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to create a strike team to guard against the entry into the country of waste materials from overseas.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III issued the directive to Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero during a recent DOF executive committee meeting.
Guerrero said he has called on the BOC’s counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to strengthen law enforcement to prevent the region from becoming a dumping ground for hazardous materials, such as garbage from other countries.
Guerrero said his fellow customs officials welcomed his proposal.
In response, Dominguez said the Philippines should establish a special unit tasked to protect the country from imported waste.
“It’s time we put up something like an environmental unit in the Customs (bureau) to really act on this garbage issue,” Dominguez said.
BOC Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip Maronilla said the BOC Environmental Protection Unit (EPU), which is under the Enforcement Group (EG), would closely coordinate with their counterparts in the ASEAN.
The EPU, Maronilla said, “would be tasked to coordinate and they would be trained to do shipment profiling in terms of origin, the common operation, common schemes of companies” that smuggle garbage to other countries.
He added that Guerrero had already given instructions to EG Deputy Commissioner Teddy Raval.
Raval would soon reshuffle the EPU and select personnel who would suit the purpose of the unit. Maronilla said it was possible that Allen dela Cruz, a lawyer, would be retained to head the unit.
Guerrero said other ASEAN member-states thanked the Philippines during the 28th meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs for “setting the example” when President Duterte compelled Canada to take back 69 containers of trash that were dumped in the country six years ago.
The DOF said other countries like Malaysia and Cambodia are also working to have imported garbage returned to Canada.
“Malaysia was thanking the Philippines for setting the example, this problem about the wastes, because now it has come to the consciousness of the international community,” Guerrero said.
Moreover, Guerrero said he has received reports that plans to transport wastes to the country have been abandoned as a result of Duterte’s stand on the issue.
The Philippines initially set a May 15 deadline for Canada to ship back their garbage.
After Canada failed to meet this deadline, the government recalled its ambassador and consuls to Canada to demonstrate its “diminished diplomatic relations” with the country.
This prompted Canada to repatriate the trash on May 31, earlier than its June 30 commitment.
Following this development, the South Korean government has also committed to help ship back to its country some 5,176 metric tons of waste materials illegally imported by Cebu-based Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. into the Philippines last year. – With Evelyn Macairan
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