US warship runs aground at Tubbataha Reef

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The CPP joined the widespread condemnation of the entry of the US warship USS Guardian to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park on January 17. The USS Guardian ran aground at the carefully maintained coral reefs in the area. Tubbataha Reef which is found at the Sulu Sea is a protected area and considered a World Heritage Park by UNESCO since 1993. Marine vessels are prohibited from entering the area.

The USS Guardian had no authorization to enter Tubbataha. It ignored even the warnings over the radio of the Tubbataha Park Rangers. When it ran aground, American soldiers trained their high-powered weapons at the rangers who approached the US warship and barred them from coming near the ship or boarding it.

The CPP said that the USS Guardian’s unauthorized entry at Tubbataha shows the US military’s overweening arrogance. Supported by its puppet Benigno Aquino III, US warships haughtily roam all over Philippine territory without any regard at all for the country’s sovereignty.

The USS Guardian is a minesweeper with a crew of about 90. It had just come from Subic and was on its way to conduct patrol operations near Palawan where US warships often sail within Philippine territory.

In 2012, at least 80 US warships docked at Subic, Manila and other areas in the Philippines and joined “military exercises” and patrol operations at the South China Sea. In conjunction with this, the US military has also been given free rein to fly surveillance drones in Philippine airspace.

US military presence is bound to expand and intensify along with its intervention in the war of suppression against the Filipino people. In December, the Mutual Defense Board (a body created under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty) and the Strategic Defense Dialogue held another meeting. The SSD meeting, the third in 2012, was attended by high-ranking US military and security officials, including US Pacific commander Adm. Samuel James Locklear. The meeting resolved, among others, to allow even more dockings by US ships in the Philippines.

The meeting also discussed tighter relations between the US and the Philippine National Police through the Security Engagement Board, which was formed by the US and Philippine governments in 2006. The US has been using the SEB to deepen its intervention in the Philippines on the pretext of cooperation in defeating “non-traditional threats.” US intervention is bound to intensify in the name of purportedly addressing piracy, cyber security and calamities. An agreement had also been forged earlier between the New York Police Department (NYPD) and PNP for the NYPD to set up a satellite office in the Philippines.