MISAMIS Oriental Provincial Board member Gerardo Sabal on Friday, November 16, said he wants the health department to be part of a composite team that he mulls to propose to look into whether the tons of garbage shipped from South Korea to Tagoloan town are toxic and hazardous.
Sabal said the team will be composed of representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Department of Health (DOH), local government unit of Tagoloan and the Provincial Board.
He said the health department has the expertise in determining whether said waste materials are hazardous and toxic.
"What I will propose is mag form of composite team to look into the matter para naay coordinated efforts dili magtinaginson kay kung pasagdan lang ang customs or ang DENR wala ta kahibalo kanus-a mahuman. Naa naman to ang DOH kay part man sila sa initial task force but medyo kulang pa og dili pa in-depth ang inspection," Sabal said.
"Kung pwede ma-expedite unsa ang actions kay ang Sangguniang Panlalawigan is only there to recommend kay ang power to sanction and penalized naa sa customs, DENR and DOH. Kay ang Verde Soko gusto ra ba gyud sila magpadayon," he added.
Sabal said DENR officials already confirmed that the consignee, Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp., of the close to 6,500 tons of garbage shipped to Tagoloan in two schedules last July and October has no import clearance and the shipment was misdeclared as "plastic synthetic flakes" according to the customs bureau.
"So what's next unsa'y tulubagon sa Verde Soko they have to answer for that ngano nakasulod nga walay import clearance and misdeclared ang shipment," he added.
The firm has maintained that the shipment was not garbage but are "soft plastics" raw materials to be processed into pellets and briquettes which will be exported back to the said country.
However, Verde Soko president Neil Alburo said they would abide and comply to whatever findings and recommendations of government agencies.
In a joint inspection conducted last October 9, the group observed that the facilities for processing were not yet fully installed; no waste water treatment facility was constructed nor any air pollution control devise was installed; The jumbo tonner bags of raw materials piled within the project area were not covered and openly exposed to sun and rain; and no unpleasant odor coming from the tonner bags was observed.
The team is composed of representatives from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), DOH, Tagoloan town's environment and natural resources office and provincial board.
The findings also showed that the firm's application for importation clearance is still pending before the EMB-central office and they were warned that no further importation of raw materials should be undertaken without securing said clearance.
The team has recommended to Verde Soko to prioritize securing necessary permits before starting the operations and have the workers undergo regular health check considering that they are exposed to plastic materials.
Sabal said investors are welcome in the province as long they follow and comply with the regulations provided for by law.