MANILA – Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday lamented that the Philippines has become an “official dump site” of some countries, as he called on customs officials to be stricter to prevent the entry of exported garbage into Philippine shores.
“Sad but true, there is already a bandwagon of nations that designate our country as the official dumpsite of Southeast Asia,” Lacson said in a privilege speech.
Lacson cited the entry in 2013 and 2014 of over 100 containers of Canadian waste, which has triggered a diplomatic spat between Ottawa and Manila.
The garbage will be shipped back to Canada on May 30, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
Lacson also noted that the Philippines has become a destination of garbage from other places such as Hong Kong, Australia, and South Korea.
Amid the spate of garbage dumping by foreign countries in the Philippines, Lacson called on the Bureau of Customs to step up and prevent the entry of the unwanted shipments.
“To say that our country is treated like trash appears to be true, as in literally, amid news reports of tons of waste being illegally shipped into our lands, no thanks to local and foreign smugglers, unscrupulous Customs brokers and corrupt Customs officials,” Lacson said.
Lacson has long been fighting corruption at the customs bureau, earlier baring alleged corruption in the agency.
“In the face of all these, the Bureau of Customs appears to be constantly blindsided and remiss in its mandate as the "gatekeeper of our borders."
A report by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Greenpeace East Asia released last month said the world's recyclable plastic is being shipped to Asia, where it is illegally dumped, buried or burned in the country with the lightest regulations.
The report analyzed the top 21 exporters and importers of plastic recyclable waste from 2016 until 2018 - before and after China stopped taking such waste last year.
It found that plastic waste imports into Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam jumped from mid-2017 to early 2018, leading to illegal operations dumping and open-burning, contaminating water supplies, killing crops and causing respiratory diseases.
China was the leading importer of plastic waste until it banned imports at the start of 2018 after a string of scandals.
This disrupted the flow of more than 7 million tons of plastic scrap a year, valued at about $3.7 billion.
The top exporters of plastic waste analyzed for the report included the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan. – with Reuters