Group urges DENR to charge US toxic dumping ship with P 10-B fine
THE militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to fine a US navy contractor Glenn Defense Marine Philippines with P 10-B in total damage compensation for dumping toxic wastes off the waters of Subic Bay last month.
Pamalakaya chairperson Fernando Hicap said the findings of the joint Senate committees on foreign relations and environment and natural resources which confirmed the culpability of the US navy contractor were enough to pursue criminal and administrative cases against Glen Defense and seek damage compensation for the affected sectors and the damaged environment.
“The proposed P 10-B in total damage compensation from Glen Defense should be use for economic relief affected by the dumping of toxic wasters and urgent clean up and rehabilitation efforts. Definitely it is not for the pockets of the corrupt officials of this administration,” noted Hicap.
The Pamalakaya leader also appealed to Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Loren Legarda to lead their colleagues in the Senate in filing criminal and administrative charges against owners and officials of Glen Defense Marine Philippines that include retired Vice Admiral and Glen CEO Mateo Mayuga.
Hicap also asked the two lady senators to lead their colleagues in filing a bill that would abrogate or scrap the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which he said the legal and political license used by Washington D.C to dump toxic in municipal and offshore waters, including parts of high seas inside the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
At the joint hearing of the two senate committees yesterday, Sen. Legarda said Glenn Defense Marine clearly broke Philippine laws on proper waste disposal regardless of claims by the company that previous reports on alleged dumping were inaccurate or false.
Pamalakaya likewise asked congressmen to conduct their own investigation on the harmful effects of toxic wastes dumped by a US Navy contractor in Subic Bay to the livelihood of small fishermen and its damage to marine environment.
The group said Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano had assured them that he will file a resolution that will probe the impacts to livelihood of toxic materials and other hazardous water wastes dumped in open waters of Subic Bay to small-fisherfolk and marine life.
Among the organizations of fishermen who sought the help Rep. Mariano inlcude affected by the spread of toxic wastes in Subic Bay and Manila Bay. The organizations who sought the Anakpawis help for congressional investigation include Pamalakaya-Zambales, Pamalakaya-Bulacan, Pamalakaya-Central Luzon, Koalisyon Kontra Kumbersyon ng Manila Bay (KKK-Manila Bay) and Sagip Manila Bay Movement.
The reported dumping of 189,500 liters of hazardous chemicals and 760 liters of water bilge off the waters of Subic Bay by MT Glenn Guardian, a US commissioned navy contractor, according to Pamalakaya is a potential economic and environmental catastrophe if not properly addresssed by concerned government authorities.
Pamalakaya’s initial assessment argues the strong possibility that toxic waters from Subic Bay may reach the coastal shores of Bataan, Pampanga and Bulacan in Central Luzon, Navotas, Manila, Pasay, Paranaque and Las Pinas in National Capital Region and all the coastal municipalities of Cavite causing the same impacts on livelihood, marine environment and people’s health.
Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said Manila Bay alone is a home to 25 million Filipinos, of which, 13 million are living along the bay. It said, toxic wastes will drive away fishes and other types of marine lives away from municipal waters causing further reduction on average daily fish catch of 5-10 kilos during the last quarter of the year.
Pamalakaya also warned on the grave impact of dumping toxic wastes in the West Philippine Sea and its impact on Philippine tuna. It said the West Philippine Sea is part of “tuna highway” and any ecological and environmental disorder in the West Philippne Sea may scare away or affect “ tuna navigation and generation in Philippine ocean waters.
Earlier, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list rejected the move of US Navy to investigate the dumping of toxic wastes, asserting that the move may lead to a grand white wash.
“The US navy should submit themselves to local authority instead of pursuing their own investigation. Please allow us to remind these American military officials that aside from their contractor, they too should also be probed for turning the Philippines into a largest septic tank for Washington toxic wastes outside the US mainland,’ said Pamalakaya said.
The group said the Philippine government should assert its authority and stop US military officials from pursuing a highly questionable probe.
“The government should assert its jurisdiction on the matter and should not allow Washington’s parallel probe that would lead the Filipino public into a grand whitewash. In the first place, the US military is grossly responsible for allowing their contractor to deluge us with their killer wastes and President Benigno Simeon Aquino III should come to his senses and exercise a high sense of patriotism by telling Washington D.C and the US embassy in Manila to back off from their probe and let the Philippine government do its job objectively and independently,” said Pamalakaya.