By NITZ ARANCON
OVER 30 scavengers in the city are facing charges in Misamis Oriental for allegedly “stealing” some of the controversial garbage from South Korea at the VNS Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. plant at Sitio Buguac, Barangay Sta. Cruz in Tagoloan town.
The scavengers from Upper Dagong, Carmen, this city, were arrested and detained on Friday by authorities led by Tagoloan Mayor Gomer Enan Sabio.
The controversial wastes, over 5,000 metric tons, have been seized by the government and used as evidence by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) that pressed charges against a group of South Koreans and their Filipino counterparts who are accused of being behind the garbage shipment last year.
One of the arrested scavengers, 56-year-old Gloria Ayopa, said they were arrested at around 2 pm Friday by a group that included Mayor Sabio.
Ayopa said they had planned to bring the trash to junk shops in Cagayan de Oro in the hopes of making some money.
She said they were unaware that the wastes were placed under the custody of the Mindanao Container Terminal- Bureau of Customs.
Behind bars, the scavengers cried and screamed as they denied any wrongdoing. They argued that they cannot be charged with stealing garbage.
“Ang sala ra gyud namo ang among kapobrehon, wala mi mangawat,” Ayopa said.
Ayopa claimed that a guard allowed them to enter the Phividec Industrial Estate so they could pick trash at the Verde Soko plant.
“Hangyo lang unta mi sa Bureau of Customs, sa mayor ug sa gobernador nga ipagawas lang mi dinhi kay namasura gani mi kay pobre kami, prisohon na no-on kami,” said Ayopa.