8 gov’t personnel charged over Canadian wastes

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    THE National Bureau of Investigation yesterday filed graft charges against eight government personnel, including an undersecretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in connection with the importation of solid wastes from Canada from 2013 to 2014 that became the subject of a diplomatic spat between Manila and Ottawa.

    Charged before the Justice Department were DENR undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna, DENR-Environmental Management Bureau personnel Irvin Cadavona, Geri Geronimo Sanez and Renato Cruz, plus four Bureau of Customs personnel identified as Benjamin Perez Jr. Matilda Bacongan, Jose Saromo and Euracio Ednaco.

    The Customs personnel were assigned at the Formal Entry Division of the Manila International Container Port as examiners and appraisers. They were sued for violation of Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990) and Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft Corrupt Practices Act.

    The waste material, composed of a mixture of paper, plastics, electronics and household trash, including diapers and kitchen trash, was shipped from Canada in batches, eventually totaling 103 containers through the local counterpart of the Ontario, Canada-based exporter Chronic Plastics Incorporated. They were declared as plastic scraps.

    The NBI said based on their investigation, Chronic Plastics Inc. was issued import clearances for its various importation of scrap plastic materials despite its failure to provide all the necessary information needed for the application of its import clearances.

    NBI Environment Crime Division Eric Nuqui told reporters they had previously filed criminal cases against private individuals involved in the importation of the Canadian wastes, particularly the importer and consignee, referring to the charges for violation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the 1995 Basel Convention on the Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Waste and Disposal against Chronic’s local counterpart, the Valenzuela city-based Chronic Plastics Inc. before the Manila regional trial court.

    Nuqui said they conducted additional investigation based on an order issued by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to determine the liability of government personnel and other individuals involved in the importation of the Canadian wastes.

    In June 2016, Manila RTC Branch 1 Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag ordered the wastes shipped back to Canada at the expense of the importer.

    After protracted negotiations between Manila and Ottawa, the garbage was finally shipped back to Canada in June last year.