close
close

Was a recycling company unfairly drawn into a House drug investigation?

Was a recycling company unfairly drawn into a House drug investigation?

Not long ago, we were a nation whose president expressed the idea that the Philippines could become a province of China. It was the time when our ruling party sent officers to China to be trained by the Chinese Communist Party, and the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal ruling was just a piece of paper.

The tone has changed. Now, even a Chinese-sounding name arouses suspicion of espionage, criminal activities and false documents. Consider the case of Infinity Eight Trading and Marketing Corp. (Infinity Eight). The company has a complex with warehouses and other buildings in Barangay Lagundi, Mexico, in Pampanga. It is owned by a Chinese-Filipino businessman.

After the mega transport of shabu from a warehouse in Mexico on September 28, 2023 and the discovery of illegal POGOs, complexes, warehouses and large buildings in Pampanga were subjected to inspection. It emerged during the June 19 hearing of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs that there was a problem with the inspection of Infinity Eight’s premises. This prompted a lengthy interrogation of the barangay captain and relevant municipal officials.

Infinity Eight is located in an industrial area in Barangay Lagundi. This is relatively far from Barangay San Jose Malino, where the above-mentioned shabu was discovered. While the business was constantly referred to as a flea market during the hearing, a Google search reveals that it is a recycling facility. The company purchases plastic, metal and paper waste, among others, from Plastic City, Valenzuela City, and processes them at the Lagundi facility. Infinity Eight is mentioned in the picture “Life in Happyland” by James Whitlow Delano (The Guardian, October 24, 2022). “In Plastic City, bottles are weighed and sold to recycling companies such as Infinity Eight Trading and Marketing Corporation,” reads the caption to a photo of a warehouse full of plastic bottles. The following photo shows rows of glass jars filled with pellets of different colors: “The company recycles plastic into pellets, which are then resold as raw material to make food bottles and cartons.”

Infinity Eight’s Taiwan-made machines, including granulators, process PET bottles into flakes and granules. These pellets are exported to China and Japan, among others. The buildings that were described as “luxury buildings” during the hearing could be the buildings housing the pellet manufacturing process. The machines are advanced and likely require a controlled environment to operate optimally. But of course, I’m just guessing.



What I know for sure is that the plastic waste crisis is real. And recycling companies like Infinity Eight are part of the solution. Recycling creates jobs for thousands of waste pickers like those in Tondo’s Happyland, it reduces the need for raw materials used in the production of virgin plastic (fossil fuels), metals and paper, and it leads to the reduction of the volume of waste that ends up in landfills, incinerators and the environment.

I’m not saying that Infinity Eight has nothing to hide – who doesn’t have something to hide? — but establishing the nature of his operations could have been done before all the interrogations. Ten minutes before the hearing ended, Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop (vice chair of the Committee on Dangerous Drugs) received a text message from someone listening to the hearing online. The author of the text message told Acop that Infinity Eight is a legitimate company engaged in recycling and not an underground business masquerading as a flea market. Faced with this information, local Mexican authorities, who initially said the company lacked permits, now admitted that Infinity Eight had obtained permits, even though the actual construction might have deviated from the submitted plans.

Remember the expose on “Influx of Chinese Students in Cagayan” last April? What final conclusion was reached after all the hearings and revelations? I wonder why the public was not informed early on that hundreds of these students are enrolled at Saint Paul University of the Philippines (SPUP) in Tuguegarao City? SPUP is a Catholic university whose international program began long before any discussion of Cagayan welcoming American troops. This program not only seeks to attract foreign students, but also ensures international exposure to the university and all Filipino students. Although this doesn’t explain everything, it is certainly important information to understand why there are many Chinese students in Cagayan. The Sisters of St. Paul are pioneers – which, of course, is not to say that we could not be more circumspect, as some foreigners have indeed been found to have sinister motivations for entering the Philippines.

Let us not lose our minds in our quest for national security. If we must investigate, let it be carried out thoroughly, systematically, fairly and credibly. Accusing individuals, whether of Chinese descent or not, of criminal activity without due process and solid evidence does a disservice to our democratic society.