US dumps toxic waste in Subic

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US Navy ships and submarines were found to have ordered the dumping of toxic waste near the coastline of the Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales in October. The US Navy has been contracting the Malaysian-owned Glen Defense Marine Asia Inc.-Philippines or GDM to collect the waste and dispose of it in Philippine waters.

An inspection conducted by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Ecology Center on October 15 revealed that the volume of chemicals GDM had dumped some 20 kilometers off the coast of Zambales was more than 700% above the allowable limit. Official records state that 189,000 liters of human domestic waste and 760 liters of bilge water (a combination of water, oil and grease) had been collected by the MT Glenn Guardian from the US Navy ship Emory Land.

The GDM claims that the waste had already been “treated” or rendered unhazardous by the US Navy before it was passed on to it. But GDM also admitted that it does not conduct its own inspections or analysis of the waste it receives. Thus, there is no assurance that the waste had really been treated or that there was no nuclear waste or other hazardous material mixed in.

After the US Navy’s use of the Philippine seas as a dump site was exposed, everyone involved played the blame game. The GDM immediately hid behind the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to avoid criminal prosecution. The US Embassy and the US Navy, on the other hand, quickly said that the American side could not be held accountable because it was a private contractor that did the actual dumping, and as such, it was a matter outside the purview of the VFA. The most detestable declarations came from the Aquino regime, which hurriedly absolved both GDM and the US Navy and upheld the VFA. It has come to the defense of those who destroy the environment and trample on the country’s sovereignty instead of holding them to account.

The volume of waste material the US Navy has ordered thrown in Philippine waters is mind boggling, since this year alone, GDM has already serviced 37 US naval ships and submarines.

There have been renewed calls for the abrogation of the VFA because the latter has been invoked as a justification by the US military to use the country’s seas as a dumping area for toxic chemicals.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) launched a protest action near the US Embassy on November 14 to demand the junking of the VFA.

BAYAN and other progressive organizations likewise supported proposals by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago to abrogate the VFA and calls by Sens. Francis Escudero, Aquilino Pimente III and Loren Legarda to investigate the dumping of toxic waste by the US Navy.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy CasiƱo also supported these moves. In fact, there have been resolutions filed at the Lower House since 2011 calling for the junking of the VFA and a ban on American soldiers returning to their former military bases at Subic and Clark.

More than the issue of the US dumping chemicals in Philippine waters is the use of the VFA to justify the presence of American troops in the country who have been intervening in the counterrevolutionary war being launched by the puppet regime. The US has also been using the Philippines as a launching area for its interventionist operations in the Asia-Pacific. Such activities are expected to intensify especially as the Obama regime has given priority to strengthening US military power in the region. Up to 60% of US Navy sgips will be deployed in the Asia-Pacific by 2020.

Particularly in the Philippines, said the US Department of Defense, more than 100 airplanes have been landing at Clark every month. More than 70 US naval vessels have docked at Subic this year, compared to 51 in 2010 and 55 in 2011.