Group to file diplomatic protest letter to the US Embassy in Manila

THE fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) will email a diplomatic protest letter to the US Embassy in Manila on Monday to demand the immediate clean up of toxic wastes.

Also, the group will demand for the immediate and unconditional pullout of all US military forces, warships and air crafts in Subic and other military establishments in the country whether they are directly operated or commissioned by the US State Department.

The group expressed apprehension on the negative and devastating impact of the dumped toxic wastes in Subic Bay might spread to nearby Manila Bay encompassing the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga and Bulacan in Central Luzon, Navotas, Malabon, Manila, Pasay, Paranaque and Las Pinas in National Capital Region and several municipalities along the coastlines of Cavite province.

“Subic Bay is adjacent to Manila Bay via the waters of Bataan. The wind current is gearing towards the coastal shores of Manila Bay because of prevailing wind from the East known here as Amihan, and the possibility of toxic wastes spreading to Manila Bay is high under this current wind pattern of Amihan,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said Manila Bay is a home to 25 million people, of which 13 million including the residents of Metro Manila are situated. The militant group said one of the sectors who would be affected by possible spread of toxic wastes are the small fisherfolk in Manila Bay who source their livelihood from the bay. The fisherfolk alliance said not less than 1 million people are dependent and indirectly dependent to fishing activities for food and livelihood in Manila Bay.

Yesterday, Pamalakaya urged top leaders of Congress to conduct a full-blown inquiry on the alleged dumping of toxic wastes in Subic Bay, a day after the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) announced it is investigating a US Navy contractor blamed for throwing of hazardous wastes near the former American naval base in Olongapo City.

“Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte are legally, politically and morally obliged to undertake a joint or separate inquiry into this wholesale poisoning of coastal and offshore waters off Subic Bay that might spread to adjacent bodies of water encompassing Zambales Bay and Lingayen Gulf,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said it is high time and politically correct for the Senate and the House of Representatives to break their silence on alleged dumping of toxic wastes of US commissioned military contractors and do what is best for national interest and for the environment.

“We hope the Senate and the House of Representatives will see the necessity and wisdom of national sovereignty in dealing with this kind of problem. The solution on top of the ongoing probe of the SBMA and the proposed congressional inquiry in aid of legislation will include the abrogation of treaties with the US like the Visiting Forces Agreement and the RP-US Military Defense Pact,” he added.

SBMA records showed released to local media revealed that wastes dumped by the tanker MT Glenn Guardian were collected from American ships that joined the recently concluded joint military exercises in the country. The SBMA noted that tanker is one of the vessels owned by Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a Malaysian company operating in several countries which services American ships in the Philippines.

On Oct. 15, environmental personnel of SBMA Ecology Center inspected US commissioned tanker, which was then docked at the Naval Supply Depot area due to a “hazard call” from another free port locator. The SBMA spot report showed that the tanker was carrying some 189,500 liters of domestic waste and about 760 liters of bilge water (a combination of water, oil and grease), all of which were hauled from Emory Land, a US Navy ship.

“Imagine the environmental catastrophe these toxic wastes would bring to small fisherfolk depending their livelihood on Zambales inshore and offshore waters. For us that is unthinkable because we are talking here of 189,500 liters of highly intoxicated liquid and 760 liters of toxic-ridden bilge water. This is VFA bred catastrophe in the making,” said Pamalakaya.

“Malacanang is obsessed with its political tit-for-tat against Beijing on West Philippine Sea, but very, very silent on the dumping of wastes by military ships commissioned by Washington for Balikatan exercises under the RP-US joint military exercises agreement. This is double standard and complete expression of puppetry to Washington D.C.,” Pamalakaya lamented.

The militant group advised the SBMA to immediately file criminal and other appropriate charges against the US naval contractor and ground further operations of the Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

“The SBMA should file charges and make sure US influence peddlers and military authorities will not meddle in the case,” said Pamalakaya.

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