Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon called for a total ban on all waste imports and violators may soon face hefty fines or imprisonment of up to 12 years.
Under Senate Bill No. 18 or the Waste Importation Ban Act of 2019, authored by Drilon, all waste imports, including recyclable materials, will be banned from entering the Philippines.
Drilon’s proposal comes on the heels of numerous reports showing that the country is gradually becoming a dumpsite of foreign waste.
He lamented how the recent Canadian garbage inside the 103 shipping containers found its way to Philippine shores and how our country has become a cross boundary disposal site of unwanted and toxic shipments of waste from waste exporters like Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.
Despite several laws intended to protect the country from being a destination of waste imports, Drilon said “waste from various countries continue to be imported into our country to the detriment of our people and environment.”
“These incidents indicate that we have become a dumping ground for waste generated by other nations. We must fix our laws that allowed that to happen,” Drilon said.
“We must then prohibit the importation of all kinds of waste or scrap including recyclable materials. We should never allow our country to be a dumpsite,” Drilon stressed.
Drilon explained that under his bill, not even recyclable materials can enter the Philippines, pointing out how unscrupulous individuals were using loopholes in existing laws to bring other nations’ garbage into the country.
Drilon’s bill also mandates that all imported wastes shall be immediately brought back to the country of origin at the expense of the consignor or importer.
“The passage of this measure will no doubt stop the waste trade in the country and send a clear message to other countries that the Philippines is not a landfill,” the minority leader said.
Under SB 18, any person who misdeclares, brings into the Philippines any waste, or assists in the importation of waste products shall be punished by very hefty sanctions and penalties.
“Violators may be fined with up to P15 million and/or imprisoned for 8 to 12 years,” Drilon warned.
If the offender is a foreigner, the offender shall be deported after serving the sentence, he added.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) together with the Bureau of Customs (BOC) shall be the primary agencies to implement stricter monitoring of imports and enforcement of tighter regulations in order to avoid shipment of waste and even recyclable products into the country./PR