Even countries which are signatories to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal seem to be constant violators to the agreement by using waste traders to direct the movements of their refuse, especially to less developed countries.
Such was the case of the more than the 100 containers — or 1,300 tonnes — of Canadian industrial and municipal garbage shipped by an Ontario-based company to the Philippines.
Sent in batches from 2013 to 2014, these were falsely declared as “recyclable plastic scraps” by Chronic Inc., a business firm owned by Jim Makris, who had denied sending Canadian wastes to the Philippines but is a known dealmaker in the exportation of mixed plastics across the Pacific.
It was Makris who helped put up Chronic Plastics Inc. (CPI) in Canumay, Valenzuela, an industrial city where fly-by-night firms like CPI could easily get business clearances and permits, a proof of which is the company’s quick dissolution soon after the smuggling of the Canadian garbage was discovered.
CPI, since August of 2013, had shipped the garbage in batches. These came in 19 containers in August, 48 more in the stretch of December 2013 to January 2014, when their contents were discovered after the containers lingered at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) for long.
The CPI had let go of more than 150 workers after the discovery.
Makris’ contact in the Philippines, Aldelfa Eduardo, said to be the owner of CPI and possibly a Makris’ dummy, was charged in relation to the garbage importation, along with licensed customs brokers Sherjun Saldon and Leonora Flores.
Broker Saldon is a notorious figure in the Bureau of Customs (BoC). At the height of the Canadian garbage issue, he was also found to have smuggled in knockoff designer bags and accessories from China and was charged for violations of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines and the Intellectual Property (IP) Code.
Questionable connections like this exposed Makris, despite his persistent denials of engaging in spurious deals with his Filipino partners other than plastics.
But more important, the Canadian garbage also let out the stinking truth about developed countries exploiting the good name of recycling and justifying their garbage exports as moving to recycling destinations.
Pervading corruption in the BoC does not help. Saldon’s role in the Chronic garbage deal should also expose the extensive network of these smugglers, not just in the BoC but in the government.
And it was not just Canada.
Also very recently in January, the Philippines had sent back 51 containers — or 1,500 tonnes — of garbage imported by a firm named Verde Soko II Industrial Corp. to South Korea. The garbage was intended to be sent to Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental. And there is more South Korean garbage waiting to be shipped back to South Korea, the BoC said.
The South Korean trash was not given the same disdain received by the Canadian garbage.
But both are the same refuse we refuse to accept.
The country would not have been the dumping ground of these foreign garbage if we did not allow it.
But an exploitative system between governments and shady businessmen make it happen.
Canada allowed it.
South Korea let the foul-smelling containers pass.
Corrupt Customs men took grease from importers’ operators to accept the rubbish.
It was good some people were vigilant and able to stop further smuggling of trash.
But it should not stop there.
We should jail these foreign devils’ local counterparts.