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A man checks wastes from Hong Kong in a sack in a container van intercepted by the Bureau of Customs at the Mindanao Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, Wednesday. (photo courtesy of the Ecowaste Coalition)

Customs intercepts Hong Kong garbage

By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
Correspondent .

CHINA’S special administrative region of Hong Kong has also dumped its wastes into the country via Misamis Oriental.

The Bureau of Customs in Northern Mindanao (BOC-10) said tons of electronic waste (e-waste) and other forms of trash from the Chinese territory has been brought in via a local port.

The Asian superpower is the latest nation to have reportedly shipped its garbage to the country after waste materials from Canada, South Korea and Australia made headlines lately.

Environmental groups have condemned such act as they called on the government not to allow the Philippines to become the dumping ground of garbage from other countries.

The wastes from China’s special administrative region were shipped to the Mindanao Container Terminal sub-port in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental on Feb. 15, 2019, said MCT sub-port collector John Simon.

The cargo was shipped by Hin Yuen Tech. Env. Limited and was consigned to Crowd Win Industrial Limited based in Pasay City.

Identified as the shipment’s broker was a certain Yolanda Narandan with business address at Door 1, Nacalaban Building, Julio Pacana St., Barangay 23, this city.

This reporter checked the given address and found out that its an eatery and not a customs broker’s office.

The eatery attendant, however, said “Yolanda” is the name in the establishment’s electric bill although he admitted that he doesn’t know who that person is.

Simon said the shipment contained 25,610 kilograms of discarded components of electronic devices such as computers and cellular phones smashed to tiny pieces.

“This is just a ‘test cargo.’ They are just checking if it can pass through the Customs. Fortunately, we were able to intercept it,” Simon said.

He said they received information that over 70 container vans containing the same cargo are expected to arrive at the MCT sub-port had the first shipment been given the green light by BOC-10.

“When those involved found out the Customs’ strict enforcement, all of a sudden they disappeared. They aborted the shipment,” Simon said.

“But even if we confiscated only one shipment, it’s still hazardous. It’s only one container but still deadly,” Simon said.

He said the cargo was declared as “assorted electronic accessories,” adding “that is such a general term. It’s not specific. If a term is too general, we at Customs will suspect that the importer is hiding something.”

The BOC-10 issued an alert order and a warrant of seizure and detention on Feb. 19 and March 7, 2019 for the shipment for misdeclaration of the imported materials.

The environmental group EcoWaste Coalition has expressed its indignation. “We denounce this latest attempt to bring into the country over 25 tons of mixed plastic waste from Hong Kong amid our nation’s ongoing efforts to send back similar illegal waste shipments from Canada and South Korea.”

EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator Aileen Lucero said, “This is supposed to be a ‘trial shipment’ for some 70 containers. Thanks to the alertness and resolve of local customs intelligence and officials, our nation succeeded in stopping a potential avalanche of plastic waste and e-waste.”

She said they are shocked that the shipment originated from Hong Kong and found it ironic “since China has taken the unprecedented move to protect its own environment by banning waste imports, including electronic and plastic scraps and remnants. We therefore request the Chinese government to seriously look into this matter.”

“To protect the national interest against illegal waste trafficking, we renew our earnest call for a comprehensive and immediate ban on waste imports and for the country’s rapid ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment,” Lucero said.

The amendment of the Basel Convention aims to ban all shipments of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries, even for recycling purposes, and to promote clean production, stop toxic technologies and prevent governments and companies from circumventing the recycling loophole in the treaty.

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