Home » Customs & Trade, Ports/Terminals » BOC forms team to go after hazardous waste imports

Image by ar130405 from Pixabay

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has created a special unit on environmental protection that will address the unlawful entry of hazardous wastes and substances into the Philippines.

The Environmental Protection and Compliance Division (EPCD), created under Customs Memorandum Order (CMO). No. 38-2019 dated July 26, 2019 and signed Aug 1 by Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, will monitor the processing of shipments of hazardous substances, waste products, nuclear wastes, recyclable products, and all other chemicals, products, or substances under the regulatory control of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The order covers other chemicals or substances regulated by other government agencies, except those falling under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Dangerous Drugs Board.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III last month directed BOC to look into creating a special strike team to guard against the entry of waste materials other countries may attempt to dump in the Philippines. The order came after Canada took back last June its 69 containers of garbage that were shipped to the Philippines six years ago.

CMO 38-2019 noted that Republic Act (RA) No. 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1999, directs regulatory government agencies, including BOC, to assist DENR in monitoring and preventing the entry, even in transit, of hazardous and nuclear wastes.

The Philippines is a signatory to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, an international treaty designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries.

CMO 38-2019 noted that the Environmental Protection Unit created in 1996 under BOC’s Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) has “limited duties and functions.”

The ECPD, which will be under ESS of BOC’s Enforcement Group (EG), shall be headed by a senior office from the ESS and composed of other ESS personnel to be selected by the ESS director and approved by the EG deputy commissioner.

All Central Alarm Station Monitoring Units established at the Port of Manila, Manila International Container Port, and Port of Cebu are placed under the supervision and control of the EPCD chief.

Aside from its monitoring function, EPCD shall also recommend the issuance of alert order and pre-lodgement control order against shipments suspected of containing goods that violate provisions of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and environmental laws. It can also investigate cases of violations of environmental laws and make recommendations for prosecution of violations of the CMTA in relation to environmental laws and other applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

It shall also collaborate with the Piers and Inspection Division or its equivalent unit in each port in preventing the unloading of cargoes from the carrying vessel containing hazardous substances without the requisite permit from DENR.

EPCD shall also coordinate with the X-ray Inspection project in scanning cargoes suspected of containing hazardous substances and wastes, recyclable materials, and other similar items. The new division shall also represent BOC in all activities regarding environmental protection.

All district/port collectors shall strictly implement the “No Importation Clearance, No Unloading Policy” under RA 6969 and the Basel Convention.

CMO 38-2019 covers all importation, whether for consumption, warehousing, transit, or for admission to Free Zones as defined under Section 102(w) of the CMTA, and all exportation of shipments subject to permitting requisites of CMTA and other related laws, rules and regulations.

During boarding formalities, the boarding officer on duty or any customs officer acting as such and assisted by an EPCD personnel shall not allow the unloading of hazardous wastes, nuclear wastes, recyclable materials containing hazardous substances not covered by a pre-shipment importation clearance (PSIC).

For bulk and break bulk cargo shipments that also have no PSIC, the concerned district/port collector shall not issue a permit to discharge.

Importers of recyclable materials containing hazardous substances covered by PSIC shall be responsible for the advance submission of the same PSIC to the EPCD central office at least three days prior to the arrival of the carrying vessel.

Any person, officer or employee who violates CMO 38-2019 shall be penalized in accordance with Title XIV of the CMTA and other applicable penal provisions in addition to administrative sanctions that may be imposed by BOC.

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

seventeen − fourteen =