A lawmaker on Thursday expressed fear that the trash illegally shipped to the Philippines from Canada years ago could have been just a cover to smuggle contraband such as illegal drugs to the country.
During the meeting of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo Teves quizzed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on the process through which the containers containing the trash were able to enter the country.
According to Customs Deputy Commissioner Edward James Dy Buco, the trash were shipped to the Philippines for recycling, but it was discovered later that they were municipal solid waste or wastes coming from households.
Dy Buco admitted that only 20 percent out of 100 containers entering the country go through the BOC's X-ray system.
Teves expressed alarm over this admission, especially over the fact that the BOC relies most of the time only on what was declared as the contents of the shipment.
"In reality, 80 percent pass through our ports without knowing what is really in there. Kung ano lang yung sinabi sa deklarasyon, hindi naman natin nakikita," he said.
Moreover, Teves asked why the Philippines needed to import trash from other countries for recycling when it could have recycled local garbage, which he said is cheaper to do.
This led him to believe that the trash could have been just a "kicker" and there were other items beneath the pile of garbage.
"Dati kasi ginagawa yan years ago, nagi-import ng bigas, may kasamang shabu, halos pinapamigay na lang yung bigas pagkatapos dahil kicker lang yung bigas. Hindi natin alam, baka nagkaroon ng laman ang ilan na ito," Teves said.
"If it comes out so expensive, then dapat paglaanan natin ng pansin. Malamang kicker lang yung basura, yung totoong laman nun something else. Kailangan natin magbantay," he added.
All containers containing trash from Canada are scheduled to be shipped back to its country of origin on Thursday.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier threatened to declare war against Canada if it would not take its trash back.
Several ranking Philippine officials in Canada were also recalled after Canada missed the May 15 deadline to retrieve its trash. —KBK, GMA News