MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman on Friday said it has found probable cause to charge an executive of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) over the shipment of garbage from Canada to the Philippines five years ago.
Environment Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna could be held liable for the violation of the anti-graft law for allegedly mishandling the shipment of container vans filled with rotting garbage from Canada in 2013, the Ombudsman said Friday.
The Ombudsman said an investigation showed that Canadian-based company Chronic Plastics exported several shipments of container vans declared as plastic scrap materials only to be found later that these were filled with garbage.
The shipment also did not secure import entries.
The DENR's Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), according to the Ombudsman, also found that the garbage could no longer be recycled and was later declared illegal due to lack of importation clearance.
The Ombudsman found that Cuna issued a Registry Certificate for the Importation of Recyclable Materials Containing Hazardous Substances dated June 19, 2013 despite the lack of details in the Importer’s Registry Sheet.
Cuna also issued six importation clearances to the Canadian firm despite an existing notice of violation against the company, the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman said Cuna is also guilty of simple misconduct and was ordered suspended for three months without pay.
It can be recalled that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year said he had committed to President Rodrigo Duterte that Canada was working to resolve the garbage problem.
"...I am happy to commit to you all now that Canada is very much engaged in finding a solution on that," he said during his visit to Manila in November.
Chronic Plastics is already facing charges for violation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the 1995 Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Disposal.
The international convention, to which both Canada and the Philippines are signatories, provides that “the exporting country must take back the waste materials if the receiving country refuses to accept them.”
Canadian officials earlier said there was no violation of the Basel Convention as the shipment do not contain hazardous waste.