CARGO containers with wastes seized by the Bureau of Customs in 2020. — BUREAU OF CUSTOMS

By Beatriz Marie D. Cruz, Reporter

A LAWMAKER is proposing to totally ban the entry of imported wastes in the Philippines with a tighter monitoring system to be established in all ports.

“Many other cases of illegal entry and importation of wastes happen without the knowledge of authorities,” Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte, Jr. said in House Bill No. 8324.

The proposed Total Ban on the Importation of Wastes Act stops any person, group, business, corporate entity, or government office, from importing any form or amount of waste, processed waste materials, and waste by-products, whether organic or inorganic, for any purpose.

Under House Bill No. 8324, an environment protection desk jointly established by the Finance, Transportation, and Environment and Natural Resources departments will be stationed at every port in the country and will be manned 24/7.

Violators will be punished under existing laws, particularly Republic Act (RA) No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, RA 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act, and RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act.

Penal provisions under RA 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and the Toxic Substance and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act (RA 6969) will also be applied.

The shipper caught importing waste will also be “immediately and permanently banned” from transporting any cargo to the Philippines.

In 2014, a total of 103 container vans or 2,400 tons of hazardous waste declared as plastic for recycling from Canada entered local ports. Toxic waste in 331 container vans mislabeled as plastic synthetic from South Korea were also found in 2018, and 2,561 tons of smashed parts of electronic devices declared as assorted electronic accessories came from Hong Kong in 2019.

“While the Philippines has managed the disposal or return of these illegal wastes to its origin country, our country continues to be exposed to the illegal waste trade,” the Commission on Audit said in its 2023 performance audit report on the country’s Solid Waste Management Program.

Despite the passage of RA 9003, total solid waste creation in the Philippines is expected to balloon to 19.76 million metric tons by 2030 and 24.50 million tons in 2045, state auditors said.

The Philippines has also yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment that will disallow importation of hazardous wastes.

HB 8324 is expected to “send a message internationally that the Philippines is not a dumpsite for their wastes,” Mr. Villafuerte said.