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Accountability for Sokor trash

By VINCE BORNEO
National Unity Party .

CONGRESSWOMAN Juliette Uy (Misamis Oriental, 2nd District) and three House Committees (Good Government and Public Accountability, Local Government, and Ecology) have taken notice of the criminal case the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI Region 10) has filed against so-called plastics recycler Verde Soko Philippines.

It would not be a surprise if the NBI would further amend the charges or file new ones to include officials of the Bureau of Customs and the Phividec Industrial Estate Authority for the illegal acceptance of hazardous garbage misdeclared as “segregated synthetic plastic flakes.”

Congress does its oversight functions via the appropriate committees.  After the first congressional hearing jointly conducted by the aforementioned House Committees, the said plastic recycling operations of Verde Soko were obviously “for show” and not really a true-blue-honest-to-goodness investment project in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Sta. Cruz, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

The fact that Phividec allowed Verde Soko to operate is quite disturbing. The investigation of upright Customs intelligence officials clearly indicates Verde Soko is a shell that is just filled with garbage but with no working plastic recycling equipment and machinery.

Lawmakers at the hearing were practically aghast at the apparent incompetence and evasive statements of some Phividec and Customs officials at the hearing.

Present in the House investigation were Reps. Uy, Frederick Siao (Iligan City), Lourdes Acosta-Alba (Bukidnon), Henry Oaminal (Misamis Occidental), Romeo Acop (Antipolo City), Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna Party-List), Gary Alejano (Magdalo Party-List), Luis  Ferrer (Cavite), Juliet Marie Ferrer (Negros Occidental), Dakila Carlos Cua (Quirino), and Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez (South Cotabato).

Again, at the forefront and center of this controversy are certain Phividec officials that have allegedly have reputation problems.  From facilitating the entry of Verde Soko into the Phividec Industrial Estate, to helping them get the required permits from various line and local government agencies to operate and eventually import garbage from South Korea, a lot are on the hands of Phividec Administrator Franklin Quijano.

Phividec for one, should stop evading accountability. Customs officials who practically did not bother to accurately inspect the first shipment of over 5,000 metric tons of garbage from South Korea and ascertain the veracity and genuineness of the import documents also have to face the music. The NBI has the work cut out for them.

Since the second congressional hearing on the issue will be brought to the region, we will have more on this in the coming weeks.

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

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