By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
A CUSTOMS official pressed criminal charges against three South Koreans for bringing tons of garbage into the country via Misamis Oriental last year.
Mindanao Container Terminal sub-port collector John Simon yesterday identified those charged as Chul Soo Cho a.k.a. Charles Cho, Jae Ryang Cho and Sena Na.
Simon blamed the Koreans for the alleged shipment of the 6,500 metric tons of trash to Misamis Oriental from South Korea last year.
He said the Koreans are a case for violation of Republic Act 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990.
Section 13 of the law states that it is unlawful to “cause, aid or facilitate, directly or indirectly, in in the storage, importation, or bringing into Philippine territory, including its marine economic zones, even in transit, either by means of land, air or sea transportation or otherwise keeping in storage any amount of hazardous and nuclear wastes in any part of the Philippines.”
The foreigners, he said, are officials of Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. (Verde Soko), the company that imported the mostly plastic wastes from Pyeongtaek City, South Korea.
Simon said he filed the complaint with the Misamis Oriental provincial prosecutor’s office about three weeks ago.
The garbage arrived in Misamis Oriental in two batches in July and October 2018.
According to Verde Soko, the tons of imported trash were supposed to be used as materials for its plastic recycling facility in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Santa Cruz, Tagoloan, inside the Phividec Industrial Authority-managed eco-zone complex.
Verde Soko executives claimed that that the trash would be processed and made into furniture and other items.
The customs bureau however seized the garbage as it was not properly declared and the importer failed to secure an import permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Simon said the second shipment of 1,500 metric tons of trash that arrived in October were declared as “synthetic plastic flakes” but were found out to be all sorts of discarded and unsegregated plastic materials.
Lawyer Abbas Lao, Environmental Management Bureau legal officer, said in a previous interview that the shipment arrived before they could issue Verdo Soko an import permit.
On Jan. 13, 2019, the 1,500 metric tons of plastic wastes were shipped back to South Korea upon the agreement of the Philippine and the Korean governments.
Simon said authorities are still looking for the Koreans and a warrant of arrest has already been issued for them.
He said the Bureau of Immigration must locate the foreigners and bring them to court so they can face the charges against them.
“They must be held responsible. A hold-departure order must be issued so they can’t get away,” Simon said.