THE South Korean government has committed to help ship back 5,177 metric tons (MT) of plastic garbage that was illegally brought to the Philippines last year.

In a statement from the Department of Finance yesterday, Bureau of Customs (BoC) Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero said in his report to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III that the South Korean government has expressed its willingness to help repatriate the waste imported by Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp.

“The Korean government has expressed its commitment in collaborating with the Philippine government to execute the repatriation of these materials should Verde Soko fail to follow the Notice of Repatriation Order which it issued, and its willingness to shoulder the shipping cost without the arrester and demurrage charges,” Mr. Guerrero said.

Cebu-based Verde Soko illegally imported thousands of tons of plastic waste materials into the country. The cargo is currently stored at the PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority site in Misamis Oriental.

The commissioner said in his report that an order of forfeiture and order of re-expatriation were issued by the Port of Cagayan de Oro (CdO) against the waste materials, which arrived in the country in bulk and containerized shipments.

A separate shipment of 51×40 container vans was loaded on a cargo vessel on Jan. 13 and shipped back to South Korea the following day. The remaining 5,176.9 MT of garbage in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental will be balled and compacted in preparation for shipment.

“The Port of CdO District Collector informed that PHIVIDEC has already applied for power supply with the Cagayan de Oro Electric Power Light Company in order that the Balling and Compacting Machine, which are already in place, can be used in the compacting and bagging of the waste materials prior to their shipment to Korea,” Mr. Guerrero added.

Both Manila and Seoul are signatories to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, an environmental treaty designed to reduce movements of such shipments between nations.

Apart from the South Korean trash, the Philippines is also bound to return 69 container vans of garbage back to Canada, by a May 15 deadline which Canada has allowed to lapse.

The BoC said despite the country’s preparedness to send back the garbage, the Canadian government might take weeks to process necessary paperwork.

Between 2013 and 2014, a total of 103 container vans of household garbage were shipped to the Philippines in several batches by Canada’s Chronic Plastics, Inc. Thirty-four of the containers have been shipped, while the rest are housed in the Manila International Container Port and the Port of Subic. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal