Iligan solon lauds BOC officials for MisOr garbage exposé

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ILIGAN CITY — A lawmaker here lauded the Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials who exposed the misdeclaration of garbage shipments from South Korea at the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT) port in Misamis Oriental last year.

Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao on Monday said he will recommend to BOC Commissioner Rey Guerrero that officials be given medals of commendation.

Siao identified the BOC officials as MICT Port Collector John Simon and Customs Intelligence and Investigation Services (CIIS) agents Joel Pinawin, Oliver Valiente, and Abdul Sultan.

The lawmaker said the three “truly did their jobs and they deserve the commendation” for divulging details related to the two batches of garbage shipments that arrived at the MICT facility in Tagoloan town.

On July 24, 2018, over 6,000 metric tons of garbage from South Korea entered the country through the MICT. It was discovered and brought up in the media in October, with a congressional hearing launched the following month.

On January 13 this year, some 1,400 metric tons were shipped back to South Korea after a series of talks between the Philippine and the South Korean governments.

Siao said the February 28 joint hearing conducted by two House committees pointed to potential accountability on the part of Customs Collector Floro Calixihan.

“Without inspection, then Customs Port Collector, now District Collector Floro Calixihan, Jr. admitted authorizing the physical transfer of the shipments of garbage from the port of Verde Soko facilities and he did not collect or impose the import duties,” Siao said.

Calixihan has previously denied any irregularity.

Misamis Oriental (2nd District) Rep. Juliette Uy said the plastic recycling operations of Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corporation (VSPIC) are “make believe but the garbage it imported from South Korea is very real.”

Uy, who initiated the House investigation, was referring to the consignee of the garbage shipments.

“I would not be surprised if the National Bureau of Investigation would either amend the charges or file new ones to include officials of the BOC and the Phividec Industrial Estate Authority,” Uy said.

The NBI has already filed criminal charges against VSPIC officials, who earlier explained that the garbage shipments would be processed into pellets and briquettes and will be shipped back to South Korea and China as raw materials.

“We had a very productive hearing during which the committees methodically dissected the timeline, procedures, and statements of the resource persons who gave their sworn testimony. In my mind, the failures of Phividec and of the Customs district are clear,” Uy said, referring to the Phividec Industrial Estate in Misamis Oriental where the shipments were stored. -PNA

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