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Verde Soko should attend hearing and tell the truth

By VINCE BORNEO
National Unity Party .

THREE committees of the House of Representatives will conduct this week a joint hearing in Cagayan de Oro City on the controversial importation and illegal dumping of hazardous garbage from South Korea.

Upon the initiative of Region 10 lawmakers led by Misamis Oriental Congresswoman Juliette Uy (2nd District), main author of House Resolution 2317, and Iligan City Congressman Frederick Siao, a glaring example of alleged connivance and conspiracy among waste exporters from highly developed nations, unscrupulous government officials and Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. (the importer of the shipment declared by the Korean exporter Green Soko as “segregated synthetic plastic flakes”) of the international waste trade has come to the attention of our leaders in Congress and national executive agencies.

The House Committees on Good Government and Public Accountability, Ecology and Local Government have heard the statements under oath of various officials of the Phividec Industrial Authority, the regional offices of the Bureau of Customs, Environmental Management Bureau, and even the business entities who were allegedly pressured by some Phividec officials to offload the illegal shipment of trash and transport it to the Verde Soko compound in Sitio Buguac, Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

Woe to Verde Soko – even if it was indeed trying to put up plastic recycling plant – as it apparently was hoodwinked by its Korean partner Green Soko! Verde Soko allegedly complied with all government requirements to get permits and clearances, but they ended up illegally importing mixed and hazardous garbage. Verde Soko, with the alleged aid of unwitting environment officials who went on a trip to Korea upon invitation of Green Soko, got its Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) so that it could proceed to start operations. Before this, Verde Soko got its permits to locate and put up their business from Phividec – a government-owned and -controlled corporation (Gocc) that has had strained relations with the host local governments of Villanueva and Tagoloan towns for decades running.

Now, let us point out that Verde Soko personages did not show up at the first hearing in Congress that is located in Quezon City. The Phividec administrator,  Atty. Franklin Quijano, was conspicuously late at that hearing. A bit better, as Phividec snubbed all four invitations of the  Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Misamis Oriental (Aug. 14, Sept. 6, Nov. 15 and Dec. 10 all in 2018) that conducted its own probe of the South Korean garbage issue.

Now, here is some unsolicited advice to Verde Soko, the entity, the consignee of the hazardous South Korean garbage: now that Congress will conduct its hearing in Cagayan de Oro City, it would only bode well if they attend as it is their chance to explain their side. It is a chance for them to tell their version of the truth. It is their chance to point out the government officials who aided them in getting their permits to import the trash. 

Neil Alburo and Nathaniel Carampatana, president and operations manager of Verde Soko, respectively, have been invited for the second time.  The same advice goes to the Cebu-based broker of over 5,000 metric tons of garbage from South Korea shipment: Mary Claire Booc.

Complex legal consequences would happen to them – and to all government officials who have been invited to shed light on the issue – should they choose to snub the congressional hearing.

(Vince Borneo is a legislative staff in the House of Representatives. He is contributor to local dailies on the side.)

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