MANILA: Environmental justice group BAN Toxics (BT) lauded the Bureau of Customs for intercepting an illicit mercury shipment from China at the Manila International Container Port.
We support and further encourage our Customs officials to continue enforcing environmental laws, especially those that pertain to chemicals and wastes, because of their huge impact on public health,” said BAN Toxics executive director Atty. Richard Gutierrez.
The BOC seized seven container vans containing various items, including 360 kilograms of mercury worth an estimated P1.8 million. At the moment, only one of the seven container vans have been opened, with the rest to be opened and inspected in the coming days.
The illegal traders of mercury have profited immensely over the years at the expense of our health and environment. The government should throw the full force of law in prosecuting the offenders and halting the entry of mercury and similarly banned chemicals into the Philippines,” Gutierrez added.
Mercury is a heavy metal that is highly toxic. It is a potent neurotoxin that adversely affects humans, especially children and pregnant mothers. Despite this, mercury is still widely used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in the Philippines. The DENR estimates that over 70 tons of mercury are emitted into the environment by the sector annually.In its 2013 report titled ”Mercury Trade in the Philippines: An Investigative Research on Mercury Flows in the Philippines”, BT revealed that most mercury importations into the Philippines are done illegally.