MANILA, April 22 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines has returned to South Korea around 2,676 metric tons (MT) of waste materials that were stored since 2018 in a government facility in Misamis Oriental province in the southern Philippines, Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said on Wednesday.
Dominguez said in a statement that the 2,676 MT was part of the 5,176.91 MT that the South Korean government officials have committed to help ship back to their country after these were illegally exported to the Philippines in July 2018.
The waste materials consist of plastic synthetic flakes that were unlawfully imported by the Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. based in the central Philippine Cebu province. The garbage was shipped back in 151 forty-footer containers.
The first batch of 51 containers was re-exported to Korea on Jan. 25, 2019, and was followed by another shipment of 50 containers on Jan. 15 this year.
A third batch consisting of 50 containers was shipped to South Korea on March 21.
"The re-exportation took some time because the wastes have been exposed to natural elements of heat and rain, which made it difficult to re-bag and stuff inside the containers," Bureau of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said in his report to Dominguez.
Guerrero said 2,500 MT of wastes still need to be re-bagged and were originally scheduled to be repatriated to South Korea by the end of March, but the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine set back the timetable.
The Philippines placed the entire main island of Luzon under quarantine on March 16 to curb the spread of COVID-19. The extended coronavirus lockdown runs until April 30.
Manila and Seoul are signatories to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, more popularly referred to as the Basel Convention, aimed at reducing movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent the transfer of toxic waste from developed to less developed countries.
Last year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a total ban of waste materials from any foreign countries.
The order came in the wake of trash row with Canada over 103 shipping containers of garbage that Canada shipped to the Philippines in batches from 2013 to 2014. The waste materials were finally shipped back to Canada in May 2019.
Duterte has told developed Western countries to stop dumping garbage to Asian countries in the guise of "recyclable" materials. The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are among those Southeast Asian countries that received hazardous garbage shipments from Western countries, he added. Enditem