By CONG B. CORRALES
Associate Editor .
A TEAM from the international environmental watchdog Greenpeace yesterday sounded alarm bells over the heaps of unsegregated garbage and the swarm of mosquitoes that greeted its members at the VNS Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
This was what the Greenpeace members revealed following a three-day visit here and an inspection of the wastes shipped from South Korea. Over 5,000 tons of trash were brought to the company’s plant at Sitio Buguac, Barangay Sta. Cruz in Tagoloan town.
Grace Duran-Cabus, leader of the Greenpeace documenting team, said what they saw were heaps upon heaps of unsegregated trash, and not plastic flakes as what the recycling firm claimed before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan during a hearing on the controversial shipments late last month.
“Hindi siya flakes. Buong-buo pa na mga plastics like bottles, cups, at tubes. At hindi siya segregated. Halo-halo lahat ng klaseng plastics,” said Duran-Cabus.
Earlier last month, Jessica Wu, regional coordinator of a group called “Let’s Do It! Philippines,” gave a glowing report on the status of the recycling firm and concluded that the firm did not violate the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
Duran-Cabus said the Soko Verde plant itself is unfinished and its “recycling plant” looked more like a roofed basketball court with no walls and no equipment and machines for recycling.
What alarmed the Greenpeace documenting team, even more, were the presence of “mini swamps” in between the crevices of the seven-foot-high of mixed heaps of garbage.
These “mini swamps” of stagnant leachate, Duran-Cabus explained, are considered bio-hazards since these are fertile breeding grounds of disease-carrying vectors like mosquitoes.
“Ang daming talagang lamok doon,” she said.
During their rounds in the surrounding communities of the dump site, the team noted that the people were “scared” to give statements on camera.
However, some openly expressed fears that the trash would affect the soil in the area, and in turn their primary source of livelihood, since most of them are vegetable farmers.
Asked what they will do next, Duran-Cabus replied that they will present their findings to their colleagues in Manila and South Korea.
“We are closely coordinating with our Korean colleagues. They have expressed interest on the issue since it is very shameful to them,” she said.