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Solons seek cases vs Verde Soko execs, officials

By LITO RULONA, Correspondent .

TWO House committees have recommended the filing of charges against people responsible for the entry and dumping of hazardous plastic garbage from South Korea in Misamis Oriental, Rep. Juliette Uy of the province’s 2nd District said.

Uy said the recommendation came from the committee on good government and public accountability and the committee on ecology and local government of the Lower House.

The recommendation came because congressmen doubted claims made by the then Customs district collector Floro Calixihan Jr. and other officials.

She said even Iligan Rep. Frederick Siao saw Customs officials “get caught in their web of incompetence and smokescreens” during the congressional hearing on the South Korean garbage shipments.

“Without inspection then Custom collector Calixihan admitted the physical transfer of the shipments of garbage from the port to Verde Soko facilities and he did not collect or impose the custom duties,” reads part of Siao’s statement.

Calixihan explained that the importation was not released but only transferred to the Verde Soko plant site with legal basis which includes the approved special permit to transfer based on the Load Port Survey Report (LPSR) that the shipment was examined at the country of origin by an accredited surveyor of the Bureau of Customs; LPSR pursuant to Administrative Order (AO) 243; AO 243-A; and Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 18-2010 which applies to break and bulk cargo, among others.

He said that at the time of the request for transfer, no derogatory information was received against the shipment from any regulatory agencies such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, local government units, and non-governmental organizations.

Calixihan said the release of importation only come upon payment of duties and taxes.

Uy said that from July 21, 2018 to Aug. 5, 2018, the “hazardous and toxic” materials were unloaded in ports in an area controlled by the Phividec Industrial Authority.

Uy said the importation was found to have been deliberately misdeclared and supported by falsified documents from the country of origin, and that these were not recyclable.

She also disclosed that investigations by responsible government agencies revealed that the importer did not have the requisite import permit or import clearance.

“But somehow, the materials that were already in their advanced rotten stage and super malodorous were nevertheless allowed to be unloaded from the ship and subsequently permitted to be laid on the grounds inside Phividec,” Uy said.

She described the recycling facility of the consignee, VNS Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp., as “not functioning recycling plant.”

Uy said it was revealed during the hearing that the mother company of Verde Soko can no longer be located by the South Korean authorities.

It was Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna who called for the filing of cases against the consignee and the firm’s executives.

“This is not the first time that this issue has been brought to Congress – Canadian basura, Japan basura, South Korean basura – here we are again talking about this,” he said.

He said that those involved should be held accountable before another shipment of garbage comes to shore.

He said it is cheaper for first world countries to ship their garbage to third world countries like the Philippines than to process the garbage in their own countries.

The committees decided to conduct another meeting in Cagayan de Oro upon the motion of Zarate.

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