By Chito Chavez
The 51 containers of illegal garbage languishing at the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT) in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental were finally shipped back Sunday to South Korea where the assorted wastes came from several months ago.
But environmental group EcoWaste Coalition pointed out “the struggle for environmental justice, morality, and the rule of law is not yet over” as there are still 5,176.91 tons of bulk waste lying on and waiting to be shipped out of the country in a government land in Barangay Santa Cruz, Tagoloan.
Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, cited the departure of the illegal garbage exports from South Korea from local shores extolling the move as a “triumph for environmental justice, morality, and the rule of law.”
During the ceremonial send-off rites held at the MICT, Lucero asserted “the waste shipments violated Korean and Philippine Customs and environmental laws, as well as the Basel Convention,” and “sending the garbage back to its origin is only just, moral and lawful.”
The Quezon City based toxic waste watchdog sent a 15 member delegation to witness the momentous send-off ceremony of illegally transported mixed waste in the Philippines.
“Our resolute stance to get the garbage returned to its sender shows how much we, the Filipino people, want our fragile ecosystems to be protected against the adverse effects of waste trafficking, which is a serious threat to our people’s lives, their health, and the environment,” Lucero said.
Emphasizing their stance against waste trafficking, activists from the EcoWaste Coalition and various civil society groups from Davao City prominently brandished a banner with the words “stop exporting garbage to the Philippines.”
They also paraded placards saying “we are not a garbage can for Korean waste,” “Korean waste should be treated in Korea,” and “don’t transfer Korean waste to the Philippines.”
“By saying ‘no’ to garbage dumping from Korea and other countries, we say ‘no’ to the derogation of our country’s dignity and sovereignty, ‘no’ to the disrespect for national and international laws, and ‘no’ to the harm they will bring to our communities,” Lucero told the crowd assembled at the MICT.
Lucero vowed that EcoWaste Coalition will continue to vigorously remain “as a civil society group dedicated to promoting a zero waste and toxics-free Philippines, we promise to remain vigilant to ensure that our country does not become a dumpsite for any country’s garbage.”
MICT Port Collector John Simon said: “May our victory serve as a lesson to big nations that small nations like the Philippines can rise and fight for its right to have a clean environment free from the hazardous waste of the most powerful and industrialized nations of the world.”
Not forgetting about the 103 containers of reeking Canadian residual wastes disguised as plastic scraps for recycling, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed that “the repatriation of the South Korean garbage to its source should rouse Canada into resolving the festering garbage dumping controversy.”