THE remaining 5,000 metric tons of garbage that are still docked at the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT) may still remain there for a longer time, as there were no final date set for its return yet.
This, according to Chester Lobramonte, media liaison for Misamis Oriental 2nd District representative Juliette Uy and Iligan City representative Frederick Siao.
Lobramonte said that there were no specific dates yet as to when the remaining garbage owned by Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corporation will be returned to South Korea.
It can be recalled that around 1,500 metric tons of Verde Soko's trash were shipped back to South Korea in January this year.
“Maybe two weeks from now, the Congressional hearing will be brought there in Cagayan de Oro, and we may get answer as to specific dates,” he said.
The Congressional hearing was jointly convened by the committees on Good Governance and Public Accountability, Local Government, and Ecology, where Uy and Siao are members.
Other than Verde Soko, Lobramonte said that Phividec Industrial Authority director Franklin Quijano, and Bureau of Customs (BoC) collector Floro Calixihan were being questioned by the Congressional committee on the alleged irregularities inlcluding “misdeclaration” of these garbage, being passed off as “industrial flake materials.”
Quijano and Calixihan have yet to issue statements on this matter.
The last hearing was set at the House of Representatives on February 26.
During the inquiry, Uy said she would not be surprised if the National Bureau of Investigation would either amend the existing charges or file new ones against officials of Phividec and BoC.
“We have a very clinical and productive hearing during which the committees convened methodically dissected the timeline, procedures, and statements of the resource persons who gave their sworn testimony. In my mind, the failures of Phividec and of Customs District are clear,” Uy said.
The NBI-Northern Mindanao has already filed criminal charges against the directors of Verde Soko, the importer of tons of Korean wastes to Misamis Oriental last January 31.
“Plastic recycling operations of Verde Soko are ‘make believe’ but the garbage they imported all the way from South Korea is very real,” she said.
“Quijano was evasive during his testimony, kept blaming customs, relied only on presentations without verifying if those presentations were faithful representations of truth,” she added.
Uy said Quijano has the duty to check whether what Verde Soko presented was the truth.
“How Phividec allowed Verde Soko to operate is mind-boggling. The investigation of the Customs intelligence officials and of the MICT clearly indicates Verde Soko is a shell that is just filled with garbage but with no plastic recycling equipment and machinery,” she added.
Meanwhile, Siao said he would recommend that MICT port collector John Simon and his team be conferred with a medal for discovering the “misdeclaration” of the imported cargo of garbage.
Siao said that Calixihan “got caught in his own web of incompetence and smokescreens.”
“All the over 6,000 tons of garbage from South Korea was able to come into our country because Collector Calixihan allowed it to happen,” Siao said.
“Without inspection, then Customs Port Collector, now District Collector Calixihan admitted authorizing the physical transfer of the shipments of garbage from the port to Verde Soko facilities and he did not collect or impose the import duties,” he added.
Uy said it should be the basic competency of any customs officer to know the difference between fake and real import documents.