House panel starts probe on South Korean waste

By Doris C. Bongcac, Morexette B. Erram |August 22,2017 - 11:11 PM


THE House Committee on Ecology opened on Tuesday its inquiry on the shipment of 5,000 metric tons of South Korean wastes to Cebu in January.

But questions which Cebu 3rd district Rep. Gwen Garcia raised on how and why the garbage from Jeju Island was brought to Cebu remained unanswered after the four-hour inquiry adjourned at 6 p.m.

Deputy Speaker Garcia requested for the presence of officials from the Bureau of Customs-Cebu district office during the next inquiry scheduled next week to shed light on the shipment.

Among those invited in the next inquiry include former BOC-Cebu officer-in-charge Atty. Rico Rey Francis “Koko” Holganza, the deputy collector for operations; Jessica Delgado of the Entry Processing Unit; and Conrado Abarintos of the Cash Collection Division.

“How could such a huge shipment that would incur so much cost and head for Cebu if there was no assurance (documents) that such cargo would in fact find its place were it could be disposed? We also need to look into reasons which is why the brokers and their documents are important,” Rep. Garcia said.

Garcia earlier filed House Resolution No. 1155, calling an investigation to “ferret out the truth” on the waste shipment to Cebu and to find out who are the individuals behind the illegal exportation.

Also, she wanted environmental and customs laws be looked into if these remain adequate to protect the country from the onslaught of foreign garbage.

She said that the illegal exportation of South Korean trash could not have entered the country without “connivance” with some government officials.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña skipped the house inquiry but sent his executive assistant Francisco Fernandez instead.

Fernandez furnished ecology committee chairperson Estrellita Suansing a copy of the position paper prepared by the office of the mayor.

The position paper said that the city has been “wrongly dragged into the controversy” because of a letter being circulated by a certain Feliz S. Lopez Jr. claiming that the shipment was supposed to be intended for disposal at the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill.

The shipment from Jeju, South Korea, arrived at pier 3 in Cebu City on January 20, 2017. It was delivered to a warehouse in Barangay Guizo, Mandaue City, owned by consignee Moving Forward Global Trading Inc.

Part of the shipment was later on transferred to an open dumpsite in Barangay Tingub.

Residents complained on its foul odor, which prompted Mandaue City officials to investigate the shipment.

On February 8, BOC-Cebu district collector Elvira Cruz issued a warrant of seizure and detention citing the intentional misdeclaration of the trash which was declared as recycled plastic resin and wood chips.

Cruz assumed her post a day before the shipment arrived at the ports of Cebu.

Of the trash, around 250,000 kilos were already shipped back to South Korea in March while the remaining 250,000 kilos remained at the Guizo warehouse.

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