Lady solons move to terminate the VFA

LADY legislators today moved to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States in the light of the reported dumping of toxic wastes in Subic Bay waters.

Gabriela Party-list Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Luzviminda Ilagan, authors of House Resolution 2886, said it is about time for the Philippine government to review the treaty saying “the agreement seems to serve the interest of only one side.”

De Jesus said it is alarming to note that the Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a Malaysian contractor which dumped wastes in Philippine waters, is invoking provisions in the VFA as an argument to elude responsibility on their illegal act.

Glenn Defense Marine Asia argued that the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has no jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to the RP-US VFA since the vessels involved are not commercial ones but primarily for the service and benefit of the US Armed Forces.

De Jesus said the VFA between the Philippines and the US allows the unlimited entry of US vessels and nuclear warships in the country to service joint military exercises. Consequently, this allows Glenn Defense Marine Asia to collect and dispose toxic wastes into the Philippine seas.

The SBMA has started its own investigation on the Malaysian contractor allegedly hauling and dumping liquid toxic waste that are “beyond permissible limits” in Subic Bay.

Ilagan said the test result of the water samples conducted by Subic Water and Sewerage Co. is quite alarming since it showed that the level of toxicity of the liquid wastes went beyond normal levels set by international marine pollution conventions.

Ilagan said reports made by the SBMA showed that Mt Glenn Guardian, docked at Alava Pier in Subic Bay, 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 US Navy ship Emory Land.

Ilagan said the toxic waste was allegedly dumped by Mt Glenn Guardian in West Philippine Sea, 35 kilometer from Subic Bay, without the appropriate permit and clearance.

Charo Simons, spokesperson of Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Health and Environment conservation, said that the waste dumping endangered not only the environment but also the lives of the people living in and around the Subic Bay area.

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