The Bureau of Customs intercepted seven container vans of trash from Australia that were wrongly declared as processed engineered fuel and municipal waste in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
At the same time, Canada said that by June, it would ship back 69 containers of trash that were illegally shipped to the Philippines by a private Canadian company in 2013 and 2014—but President Rodrigo Duterte rejected the commitment date as too late.
On Thursday, a TV news report said seven container vans with shredded municipal waste were being held in the Mindanao Container Terminal.
BOC collector John Simon said the waste from Australia was consigned to the Verde Soco Philippines, the same consignee that imported tons of trash from South Korea in July and October 2018.
The shipment, abandoned by Verde Soco, was declared to contain “synthetic flakes.”
Simon said both the broker and the consignee would be held accountable for the wrong declaration.
Representatives of Holcim Philippines, a maker of cement, were present during the inspection of the shipment and said their company has long been using PEF instead of coal fuel.
“For us, this is really not garbage. This is low-grade fuel, this is processed engineered fuel,” Alan Cuyno, technical manager of Holcim, said.
Customs officials, however, said the shipment still included trash.
“Whatever the reason or declaration they made, the shipment is still considered the garbage and a banned item,” said Joel Pinawin, supervisor of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service-CDO.
The Canadian government vowed to complete by June this year the repatriation of its tons of trash shipped to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014.
READ: Duterte orders garbage sent back to Canada
This came after Ottawa through Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna revealed that it has chosen the company that will be in charge of bringing the garbage back to Canada.
In a statement, the Canadian government said McKenna has awarded a contract to Bollore Logistics Canada.
“Canada is pleased to announce that it has awarded a contract to bring the waste back promptly and to ensure its safe and environmentally sound disposal,” McKenna said.
“The company will begin preparation for the shipping in the coming days,” the Canadian government said. “The removal will be complete by the end of June, as the waste must be safely treated to meet Canadian safety and health requirements.”
But the Palace rejected the June 30 target as being too late.
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo insisted the Philippine government will ship the trash back to Canada on its own.
He said the government could not wait until the end of June, as the repatriation has been stalled long enough.
“They said it will take about the end of June. The President will not accept that,” Panelo said.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Thursday said the shipment of tons of trash to Canada must secure a clearance before it could be sent back through China.
READ: Canada to take back trash ‘sooner than later’
“There is quite a delay (in the shipment) because of some processes,” Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny Antiporda said.
“First of all, the trash (shipment) will have to pass through…The shipment from the Philippines cannot just go straight to Canada. There has to be a stopover in China,” he said.
“We need to secure some clearances from China also since this has been in the Basal Convention that clearance must be secured to enable the shipment,” he said.
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal or the Basel Convention is an international treaty that controls the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal.
The DENR official said fumigation issue must also be addressed to ensure that the shipping would not be a health risk to the ship crew and to those who will handle the garbage from Canada.
He said the trash to be sent back to Canada would be put in a small Philippine ship before it could be transported to a bigger ship during a stopover in China.