THE lack of quorum at the Misamis Oriental provincial board on Monday, May 27, has delayed the investigation over the imported trash from Australia being shifted at the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT) in Tagoloan town, early this month.
Board member Gerardo Sabal III said he would have asked the body to form a committee of a whole to launch a probe had there been a quorum in Monday’s regular session.
Only Sabal, President Elipe, Nancy Madjos, Leonard Winstanley, and Mercy Grace Acain were present. Other board members were on official business.
"Nanghinaot unta ko nga naay quorum para mapa-schedule ang investigation. (I had hoped for a quorum so we can schedule an investigation) Without the quorum I could not lawfully schedule a committee hearing," Sabal said.
But, once the probe starts, Sabal said the capitol's legislative body will invite the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and representatives from the consignee, Holcim Philippines Inc., to shed light on the issue.
MICT customs collector John Simon said the consignee declared the shipment as both processed engineered fuel and municipal waste which is a violation under the customs law.
He said the seven container vans of municipal waste will not be released until the issue is resolved.
However, Sabal said the MICT has the authority to examine the shipment whenever they find discrepancy in the import documents.
Sabal said he wants Holcim to shed light on the importation of processed engineered fuel or municipal waste.
"Atong sutaon kay ang Holcim nag-ingon nga naa sila panugot gikan sa BOC head office nga pwede sila maka-import aning processed engineered fuel kay mao man diay nila ilang itubil sa ilang burners para makaluto sa semento," (We will investigate because Holcim said they have the permission from the BOC head office that they can import these processed engineered fuel since they will use this for burners so they can cook cement) Sabal said.
"Nagplano kita nga magtuki ani para matagaan katin-awan ang issue. (We planned this so we can shed light on the issue) Hopefully next week," he added.
Last May 25, Misamis Oriental Rep. Juliette Uy (2nd district) issued a statement asking the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to also investigate the waste importation.
Uy also urged the DENR to issue new and strict regulations, jointly with the BOC, on the importation of any form of waste from any country in the world.
"The practice of other countries and companies overseas of sending their garbage to the Philippines is an insult to all Filipinos and an affront to our laws," Uy said.
"That the importation of garbage happened again at the port of Tagoloan here in Misamis Oriental means the people and illicit system which keep making it happen are still in place. The removal and prosecution of the conspirators embedded at the Tagoloan port and in Misamis Oriental must happen," she added.