By Macon Araneta i FilAm Star Correspondent

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III filed a bill to ban the importation of solid waste to the Philippines.

He said  the Philippines is well on the way to being a “global waste” dump site as evidenced by two incidents in 2017 and 2018.

Senate Bill No. 2144, otherwise known as An Act Banning the Importation of Solid Waste, proposes to ban the importation of trash even by recyclers of trash located in Special Economic Zones.

He said the Philippines has to set a ban against the importation of solid waste to prevent foreign waste from “arriving in our shores.”

Under the Bill, any entity or person who imports any solid waste or otherwise use, treat or process the same in violation of the Act, faces imprisonment of 12 years and one day to 20 years depending upon the discretion of the court.

In case the offender is a foreigner, he or she shall be deported and barred from any subsequent entry into the Philippines. In case the offender is a corporation, association or other entities, the penalty shall be imposed upon the managing partner, president or chief executive officer, in addition to the payment of an exemplary damage of at least PHP 500,000. If it is a foreign entity, the director and all its responsible officers shall be barred from entry to the Philippines, in addition to the cancellation of its license to do business in the Philippines.

Pimentel also said that if the offender is a government official or employee, the penalties of automatic dismissal from office and permanent disqualification from holding any elective or appointive position shall be imposed, in addition to the penalties provided in the Act.

A person or a firm responsible for or connected with the unlawful importation of solid waste shall have the obligation to transport or send back to the port of origin the prohibited wastes. In case the importer cannot be ascertained, the carrier shall be responsible for transporting the solid waste back to the port of origin or pay the exemplary damage of at least PHP 500,000 or both.

In case the importation shall cause environmental pollution, the competent environmental protection agency shall order the importer to eliminate the pollution.

“It is our Constitutional duty and inter-generational responsibility to protect and advance the right of the people to a balance and healthful ecology,” Pimentel said.

He said China, formerly the top destination for recyclable trash, has banned the importation of solid wastes, with Thailand and Vietnam following suit.

The China ban of plastic wastes, Pimentel said, has left the US, Britain, Japan and Mexico scrambling to find alternative dumping sites for the wastes.