Group to Aquino: Go for sovereignty, not just damages on Tubbataha disaster

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A fisher folk alliance on Sunday insisted that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III should put premium in upholding national sovereignty over and above the appeal of his administration for the US government to pay damages arising from the environmental destruction caused by a US minesweeper that ran aground on Tubbataha Reef last week.
“Why not file a diplomatic protest before the UN, send US President Barack Obama a strongly worded statement that would pull the American president from his chair in the White Houe and charge Washington military officials behind the disaster emanating from US war on terror,” said Fernando Hicap, chairperson of the activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in a press statement.

Hicap, also the first nominee of Anakpawis party list in the May 2013 national elections said the position of the government to obtain compensation from the damage created by USS Guardian, a US Navy Minesweeper is “very, very limiting”.

“We are talking here of Tubbataha, a national treasure for 100 million Filipinos and demanding compensation for a major crime of the century is secondary compared to political and moral justice the Filipino people want in pursuit of truth, justice and sovereignty,” the Anakpawis party list official lamented.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said if President Aquino will continue to snub the demand for US accountability on the incident in Tubbataha Reef, fisherfolk activists identified with the fisherfolk organization and party list will file their own diplomatic protest and teach “imperial America” a lesson of a lifetime.

“Whether Malacanang pursues criminal and other appropriate charges against the US government or not, the people will conduct their own collective initiative to make Washington war freaks pay for their latest escapade involving the desacration and destruction of a national heritage,” said Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list in a joint statement.

The groups said Malacanang should also pressure the US government to immediately clean up their mess in Tubbataha Reef and demand for billions of dollars as compensation for environmental rehabilitation and possible support mechanisms for small fisherfolk, tuna fishers and fish workers who are all affected by the environmental tragedy.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list likewise asked Department of Justice (DoJ) to immediately study the case and file necessary charges against US and local officials directly and indirectly involved and liable on the Tubbataha environmental carnage.

The groups maintained the DoJ should not be blind on the accountability of US and Philippine officials and that charges must be filed in local or appropriate court at the soonest time possible.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list said the Tubbataha incident courtesy of USS Guardian which ran aground last week will affect fishery production in the waters of Sulu, Panay and Guimaras Island, the Visayan Sea connecting ocean and municipal waters of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Island, Eastern Visayas and Masbate province and the island provinces of Mindoro and Romblon.

The groups argued that not less than 100,000 fishermen will be affected in terms of livelihood due to possible decline in fish catch production because the ocean-based catastrophe in Tubbataha Reef — one of the principal breeding grounds and fishery nurseries in Southern and Western Philippines.

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