‘Pirma na lang kulang’: DENR all set to implement ban on waste imports

Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2019 11:22 AM | Updated as of Aug 11 2019 05:23 PM

MANILA — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Sunday said it has finished crafting a policy which would temporarily ban all waste imports amid the recent arrivals of misdeclared shipments carrying garbage. 

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny Antiporda said the moratorium, through a department order set to be released in the coming week, will be effective for 3 months.

“Pirma na lang ang kulang. Pirma na lang ni Secretary [Roy] Cimatu ang hinihintay within this week para mag-stop [ang waste importation],” Antiporda said.

The moratorium, he said, will give way to the drafting of guidelines that will tighten the government’s grip on garbage being shipped to the Philippines.

An inter-agency council, which includes the DENR’s National Solid Waste Management Commission and the Bureau of Customs (BOC), will also be created.

“I, personally, will propose for a ban doon sa mga import na [illegal] para if in case na palusutan mo kami, haluan mo ng basura talaga, kukumpiskahin namin ‘yung bond at the same time, kakasuhan pa namin,” Antiporda said.

He continued: “Doon naman sa misdeclaration, ‘pag nalusutan ang Bureau of Customs naman, we will have no choice but to run after the issuing party.”

The Philippines allows the importation of recyclable waste, such as scrap metals, solid plastic materials, electronic assemblies and scrap, used oil and fly ash.

Importation of recyclable materials containing hazardous substances, meanwhile, requires DENR’s written approval, as per the department’s Administrative Order 2013-22.

Earlier, the BOC has created a new unit to monitor the entry of hazardous waste in the country.

Under Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 38-2019, the newly formed Environmental Protection and Compliance Division “shall monitor the processing of shipments of hazardous substances, waste products, nuclear wastes, recyclable products or substances under the regulatory control of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” the order released to media on Friday read.

The division would also be “tasked to investigate cases and to make recommendations for prosecution of violations of Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), in relation to environmental and other applicable laws, rules and regulations.”

Several cases of illegal shipments of garbage from other countries have been reported in Philippine ports, including those from Canada, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia. 

None of the shipments, however, were known to contain hazardous waste.