Lawmaker: Verde Soko not yet off the hook

REPRESENTATIVE Juliette Uy of Misamis Oriental's 2nd District on Tuesday, January 8, said the House probe on the garbage shipment from South Korea to Tagoloan town will begin when the Congress resumes session this month.

Uy said the importer Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. is not yet free of responsibility even if the hazardous waste materials are shipped back to South Korea.

The 1,400 tons of garbage were supposedly scheduled to be sent back yesterday but it was moved on January 12 due to the delay of the ship from Maersk Shipping line.

Provincial board member Gerardo Sabal said the 51 container vans of garbage are ready for loading once the ship arrives. He said the ship will then depart on Sunday morning.

“Barko na lang ang gihulatan ready na ang 51 container vans,” Sabal said.

The other 5,100 tons of wastes will remain at Verde Soko's plant site in Sta. Cruz, Tagoloan but will also be sent back after a month.

“It is my expectation that the importer Verde Soko will bear the arrastre, demurrage, clean up and any other costs pertaining to the garbage brought in,” Uy said.

“I thank Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero for guiding the talks to resolve this matter swiftly,” she added.

Uy expressed her appreciation to the efforts made by the South Korean government and the Philippines' customs bureau who worked on the details of the return of the shipment.

The South Korean government shouldered the cost of shipping back the garbage amounting to $47,430.

She said that Verde Soko will still have to answer to the provincial government and other government agencies for the customs and environmental violations it committed.

“Verde Soko will have to answer for all the environmental and business operation violations relative to this garbage importation,” Uy said.

She said the government agencies investigating this matter also have to formally report to Congress on the actions taken to address the matter and to make it sure it does not happen again.

Uy said Verde Soko, Phividec officials, customs officials, and the local government unit officials are not yet “off the hook,” as the investigation will continue.

The lawmaker filed House Resolution 2317 asking the House Committee on Ecology to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the illegal entry and dumping of hazardous plastic garbage from South Korea in the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan town.

Her move was backed by other lawmakers from Mindanao.

Uy also said, “There is still the unresolved case of the garbage shipment from Canada.”

“The lessons learned from this Verde Soko case should be applied to the Canada garbage case wherever relevant. There is also the need to have the Department of Foreign Affairs follow-up with Canada on the legal and legislative actions they should have taken by now,” she added.


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