House set to probe dumping of toxic waste in Subic Bay

TWO House committees are set to conduct a joint inquiry on the environmental and socio-economic impact of toxic wastes which were allegedly dumped in Subic Bay by US Navy contractor Glenn Marine Defense Asia.

Reps. Raymond Palatino (Kabataan Party-list) and Teddy Casiño (Bayan Muna Party-list), authors of House Resolution 2878, believed that Glenn Marine Defense Asia violated several pertinent laws of the Philippines.

Palatino said the contractor had violated Republic Act No. 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 and Republic Act No. 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

The contractor, Palatino said, has already been charged for dumping liquid waste a few miles away from Manila Bay in 2011. The case is still pending at the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR).

“What is alarming is that Glenn Marine Defense Asia even invoked the Visiting Forces Agreement to halt the investigation,” Palatino said.

Palatino said the Certificate of Registration of Glenn Marine Defense Asia as Freeport Registered Company in Subic Bay has no provision for waste water collection, hauling and dumping. It was reported that the company has been a contractor of US Navy vessels since 2009.

Palatino said prohibited under the Republic Act 6969 are storing, importing and bringing hazardous waste into the country’s territory including its maritime economic zones.

“Spoiling Subic Bay with the toxic waste of US Navy ships can hinder economic growth in the area, and may cause irreparable damages to Subic Bay’s marine ecosystem,” Palatino said.

Palatino said that the issue was not merely focused on the Philippines’ relations with the US. “It’s basically an issue of safeguarding our shores from becoming the toxic trash bin of foreign countries,” he added.

Subic Bay is known for its unspoiled waters, beaches and other tourist attractions. However, recent tests from various study groups revealed that toxicity levels in Subic Bay have increased rapidly in recent years.

The Senate and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has also started its own investigation on the Malaysian contractor on the alleged dumping of liquid toxic waste in Subic Bay.

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