Church youth charge US Embassy for Tubbataha Reef havoc

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CHURCH youth led by the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) launched a protest action today at the US Embassy for the illegal entry of a US Navy minesweeper into the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park that devastated its corals and marine wildlife.

The warship USS Guardian is stuck for the second day at the protected marine area, with two-thirds of the 68-meter ship already submerged in its waters and causing further damage.

The Tubbataha Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and entry without permit is a violation of Republic Act No. 10067, or the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009.

“We are at rage with how the US is handling this particular issue. It just shows their insolence to our national sovereignty and their inconsiderate regard to our natural resources. Not only does this raise the issue of environmental destruction, but also the reason behind the entry and presence of American forces in our country because of the Visiting Forces Agreement,” said Einstien Recedes, spokesperson of SCMP.

He also recounted the alleged dumping of untreated waste collected by a US Navy-contracted vessel on Subic Bay November last year, because the VFA grants immunity to US military personnel deployed in the Philippines.

“These incidents prove that US warships are not only conducting routine port calls in our country. Why are they here in the first place? Their presence should not be welcomed if they just cause trouble more than anything, “ he added.

The youth also slammed the Aquino government for its silence and inaction on the incident.

“The Aquino government should be held liable, because it would not have happened in the first place if it abrogated the VFA. The Philippines is at the losing end of the agreement, with the US continuing to disregard our laws, committing crimes against our people and exploiting our natural resources,” Recedes said.

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