US navy should submit to Philippine authority on toxic probe

THE fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday slammed the US navy for conducting its own investigation into allegations that its contractor has been dumping on Subic Bay toxic wastes which were thrown from American navy ships docked at the former US naval base in Subic, Zambales province.

“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 vice chairperson Salvador France in a statement.

He 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 France.

The group issued the statement, a day after it learned from Ms Cynthia Cook, deputy press attache of the US Embassy in Manila that the US navy had initiated its own inquiry.

Earlier, Pamalakaya dared President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to call re-elected US President Barack Obama in Washington D.C and tell the latter to clean up the toxic mess released by an American navy contractor commissioned by the US government for the yearly RP-US joint military exercises in the country.

“It is just a phone call away. President Aquino should phone and tell the US President to clean up those hazardous wastes. It is simple as ABC. Let us see if Mr. Aquino can do it and tell the puppet master in Washington D.C that the Filipino people want the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) abrogated or rescinded because it being used as blanket authority to deny investigation and accountability,” the group said.

“The US Embassy in Manila will not allow their private contractor to be punished by Philippine government. That’s for sure. The US government will do anything, everything to absolve the American navy contractor from any kind of obligation of responsibility to the Filipino people.
In fact the US embassy in Manila will engage in covert and overt operations to pressure Malalcanang and top defense and foreign officials of the Aquino administration to cover up the toxic mess and free the Washington paid contractor from criminal and civil liabilities . And this is major challenge facing the probing authority or else they end up anew as puppets and apologists for the American military forces,” Pamalakaya noted.

However, France said, Pamalakaya will still email a diplomatic protest letter to the US Embassy in Manila on Monday to demand the immediate clean up of toxic wastes, as well as 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 said 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.

The 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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