THE 2.561 tons of mixed plastic waste illegally shipped to Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental were being sent back to Hong Kong, China on Monday, June 3.
Packed in 22 sling bags and placed in a container van, the hazardous waste materials, which were wrongly declared as "assorted electronic accessories," were re-exported to Hong Kong via the container ship SITC Nagoya.
"Alam naman natin ang purpose lang yan ay dalhin dito para i-dump dito. Simple lang naman yan, gawin tayong basurahan pero hindi sila nagwagi, ito'y araw ng tagumpay ng sambayanan natin. Hindi sila pwe-pwedeng umubra sa atin," Port Collector John Simon of the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) said.
Simon said the seized mixed plastic waste shipment from Hong Kong were the "most dangerous" of all shipments they examined.
"Those wastes were highly dangerous because ang chemical content napakataas, pwede ka na magkaron ng cancer," Simon said.
On Monday, the imported trash were loaded in the vessel which left the Mindanao International Container Terminal at 12 noon.
"In line with the mission of the Bureau of Customs to strengthen efforts against smuggling and other customs fraud, we are returning this unlawful shipment to protect our nation's health and the environment," Simon said.
The EcoWaste Coalition, together with its partner groups in Mindanao, for its part, asserted that "Mindanao is not a garbage bin."
To signify their strong opposition against foreign waste dumping, the 30-member non-government organization delegation brandished a banner reading "PH: We are not the world's dumpsite" during the send-off ceremony for the mixed plastic waste shipment from Hong Kong.
"By quickly returning the illegal waste shipment and skipping bureaucratic delay, our nation is sending a clear and unambiguous warning to waste traffickers to stop sending other countries' wastes into our ports," Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.
"We heaved a sigh of relief as the entry of some 70 containers of similar trash was aborted with the seizure of this test cargo," she added.
Lucero also encouraged the general public and the local authorities to keep a close watch over illegal waste traffic in the region.
The EcoWaste Coalition also renewed its call for a comprehensive and immediate ban on waste imports and for the rapid ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment to protect Mindanao and the entire country from turning into a global dumping ground.
The Basel Ban Amendment aims to prohibit the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling.
From the list of 24 eligible countries, including the Philippines, only two more country ratification are needed for the amendment to enter into force.