The submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS-39) in Subic Bay. US Navy photo by Michael Russell/Released)

US government must be held liable for toxic waste dumping in Subic Bay — CPP

CPP Information Bureau

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said the US military should be held equally liable for the dumping at Subic Bay of toxic waste collected from US naval warships by its defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Philippines last October.

Last week, investigations being conducted by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) were made public revealing that tankers owned by Glenn Defense Marine dumped off the coast of Subic Bay 189,500 liters of untreated human waste and 760 liters of bilge water (oil and grease) collected from US Navy Ship Emory Land at Subic Bay waters.

Officials of Glenn Defense Marine claim that the toxic waste was dumped 37 kilometers off the shore of Subic, well within the territory of the Philippines. There are indicators, however, that the dumping was done even closer to shore.

Glenn Defense Marine Philippines is a subsidiary of Glenn Defense Asia, which has been servicing the US Navy for several decades. It is also currently facing another case of dumping toxic waste at Manila Bay in 2011.

“The secret dumping of toxic waste at Subic Bay is an affront to Philippine sovereignty by the US Navy and its defense contractor,” said the CPP. “It shows their utter disregard for the environment and the health of Filipinos. They completely ignored local and international regulations that require the treatment of toxic waste prior to disposal.”

Glenn Defense Marine initially invoked the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), claiming that its Philippine operations are carried out under the auspices of the US Navy. The US embassy in the Philippines has distanced itself from the toxic waste dumping incident, claiming that Glenn Defense Marine is a private firm that is not covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement. Officials of the Aquino government have echoed the position of the US embassy.

“However, a US-directed cover-up seems to be in operation at the moment, with efforts to challenge the findings of the SBMA that the waste dumped off the Subic Bay coast was toxic,” said the CPP. Glenn Defense Marine officials now claim that what it disposed off was “waste water” already treated aboard the US warship, insisting that this is the waste-disposal arrangement they have with the US Navy. Malacañang has already taken the side of the Glenn Defense Marine and the US Navy when Aquino’s spokesman asserted that what was dumped was “organic waste” and not “toxic waste.”

“By having exclusively contracted Glenn Defense Marine to service its naval warships, the US military should be made equally liable for the criminal act of dumping toxic waste which transgresses Philippine sovereignty,” said the CPP. “Glenn Defense Marine should be punished for the toxic waste dumping, but should not be made a scapegoat for the crimes which the US military is equally responsible for.”

“Over the past several years, the US military has been employing private military contractors to service its needs, from catering to ship repairs, personnel security and carrying out operations beyond legally acceptable bounds,” pointed out the CPP. “Whenever the criminal acts of these private contractors were exposed, the US government has been fast to distance itself by claiming that these are private firms whose acts are not those of the US military.”

“The Filipino people must demand that the US Navy be made to answer for the disposal of its toxic waste by its defense contractor,” pointed out the CPP. “At the same time, they must push for the abrogation of the VFA which has served as the legal umbrella under which US military forces have been granted untrammelled access to Philippine territory and a shield of the US military against facing criminal liabilities in the Philippines.”

“It is most likely that the toxic waste dumping incident at Subic bay is not the first of its kind, and will likely not be the last in the face of the increasing frequency of dockings by US aircraft carriers and other war vessels,” said the CPP. “This underscores the environmental and social costs that accompany the Aquino regime’s surrender of sovereignty and granting of all-out access to the US Navy to enter and carry out patrol operations within Philippine seas.”

“This incident of toxic waste dumping also reminds the Filipino people of the continuing refusal of the US government to clean up its toxic waste left at its former military bases in Clark and Subic,” said the CPP. “It also should bring back to the fore of public attention the US government’s stockpiling of nuclear weapons, which was revealed in recently declassified US government documents. The US government has yet to divulge the details of such stockpiling and whether nuclear weapons stored in the Philippines have already been properly removed and cleaned up.”

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