The Inbox

VFA does not allow PH to be made a dumpsite of US wastes

Commentary

From Glenn Defense website

By Ellen Tordesillas

The lawyers of Glenn Defense Marine Asia better look for a justification much more astounding than the Visiting Forces Agreement for the dumping of toxic waste in Philippine waters by their client, Malaysian firm Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chair of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and acknowledged expert on international law, and Loren Legarda, chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations and co-chair of the Legislative Oversight Committee on the VFA, are calling for an investigation of the dumping in Subic Bay of Glenn Defense of toxic wastes from a US navy ship, Emory Land last month.

It has been reported that Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chair Roberto Garcia is investigating the incident and is asking Glenn Defense side on the illegal act.

Inquirer reported that Glenn Defense lawyers Kristoffer James Purisima and Bernard Joseph Malibiran of Villaraza Cruz Marcelo law firm invoked the VFA, not SBMA, as the body that has jurisdiction over their client. They did not deny the accusation of their client's dumping of toxic wastes in Philippine waters.

"At the outset, it should be pointed out that our client provides marine husbandry and logistics support services (support vessels) solely and exclusively to US Navy vessels visiting the Philippines pursuant to the provisions of the VFA between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States," the lawyers said.

They further said:" It is clear that vessels operating by or for the United States armed forces — such as the support vessels of our client — may enter the Philippines upon the approval of the government if the Philippines and the movement thereof shall be the subject to mutually acceptable implementing agreements."

Purisima and Malibiran must have been scraping the bottom of the barrel to have forwarded that defense of their clients' condemnable act.

The VFA, signed on Feb. 10, 1998 by Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon and US Ambassador Thomas Hubbard, took effect upon the ratification by the Senate on May 27, 1998.

A primer on the VFA by the US Embassy states: "The VFA is essentially about the treatment of U.S. armed forces and defense personnel who would be visiting the Philippines take part in activities covered by the 1951 Mutual defense Treaty and approved by the Philippine Government.

"The Agreement gives substance to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty by serving as legal framework in promoting defense cooperation between the Philippines and the United States."

The VFA was needed because after the Senate rejected an extension of the 1947 Military Bases Agreement in 1991, there was no legal coverage of U.S. personnel who would be coming to the Philippines for joint military exercises or other missions. Until the VFA took effect in May 1999, "Balikatan", the joint PH-US military exercises were suspended.

The most sensitive issue was criminal jurisdiction. Like, who would have jurisdiction when military personnel violates Philippine laws while in the Philippines during an official mission?

Article II of the VFA is titled "Respect for Law."

It says: "It is the duty of the United States personnel to respect the laws of the Republic of the Philippines and to abstain from any activity inconsistent with the spirit of this agreement, and, in particular, from any political activity in the Philippines. The Government of the United States shall take all measures within its authority to ensure that this is done."

R.A. No. 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act, prohibits "the storage, importation, or bringing into Philippines territory, including its maritime economic zones, even in transit, either by means of land, air or sea transportation or otherwise keeping in storage any amount of hazardous and nuclear wastes in any part of the Philippines.

Santiago said Glenn Defense's dumping of toxic wastes in Philippines waters is in violation of not just Philippine laws but also international agreements.

Santiago said Glenn Defense's dumping of toxic wastes in Philippines waters is in violation of not just Philippine laws but also international agreements. She cited the Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships of 1978 (MARPOL).

"As a treaty, MARPOL is of universal application and enforcement. It must be stressed that the customary norms it embodies are generally accepted principles of international law, which our Constitution proclaims as part of the law of the land," she said.

***

Statement of Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Vince Cinches:

"This deliberate dumping of toxic substances is an additional assault to the already sorry situation of our marine ecosystem and may further affect the lives of people dependent on our seas."

"It is also a complete disregard of existing international marine conservation treaties to which the Philippines is a signatory, specifically the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972, also known as the London Convention."

"Unfortunately, this is another example of how the lax implementation of environmental laws is destroying our natural resources. A thorough investigation is necessary to find out who is accountable for this environmental crime."

"Ocean pollution cannot be contained. Subic and Zambales are known coastal tourist centers and fishing grounds. Protecting the waters here from toxic pollution means safeguarding the livelihood and health of the people in these coastal communities."

"Greenpeace urges the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to disclose the full results of the tests it conducted and is calling on the government to hold accountable those responsible for this violation."

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Honda Launches the New Generation BeAT Fi
    Honda Launches the New Generation BeAT Fi

    Honda Philippines Inc. (HPI) recently unveiled its latest offering, the New Generation BeAT-FI eSP Series at the Music Hall of the SM Mall of Asia. Daiki Mihara, President of Honda Philippines, Inc., is confident of the potentials of the New Generation BeAT-FI eSP Series in the local scooter market. “The New Generation BeAT-FI eSP Series is a reflection of Honda Philippines’ continued commitment to provide powerful, safe, fun, and worthwhile driving experience to the growing market of …

  • US to China: Stop reclamation now
    US to China: Stop reclamation now

    The United States yesterday called for an “immediate and lasting halt” to reclamation works in disputed waters in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea, saying Beijing’s behavior in the area was “out of step” with international norms. To that end, there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants,” US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a high-level security conference in Singapore. …

  • Pinoys urged to observe Flag Day
    Pinoys urged to observe Flag Day

    Filipinos are urged to commemorate the significance of the national flag as the country commemorates Flag Day from May 28 to June 12, the nation’s Independence Day. The Philippine flag was first unfurled after the Philippine Revolutionary Army defeated Spanish forces in the Battle at Alapan in Imus, Cavite on May 28, 1898, according to the Official Gazette. “The national flag was yet to be formally announced on the day of that battle. …

  • House urged to probe ‘wash sale’ of treasury notes
    House urged to probe ‘wash sale’ of treasury notes

    Congress should look into what could be the anomalous wash sale of P14.3 billion worth of treasury notes last year by officials of the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said yesterday. In a statement, Zarate said the questionable wash sale, covering 28 transactions, might be a fund-raising effort of the Aquino administration for the 2016 elections. The DBP Employees Union (DBPEU) on Friday filed a graft complaint with the Office of the …

  • Qatar court to rule on case of Pinoys charged with espionage
    Qatar court to rule on case of Pinoys charged with espionage

    Qatar’s Court of Appeals is set to deliver a verdict today on the three Filipinos charged with espionage and economic sabotage. One of the three Filipinos who was employed by state-owned Qatar Petroleum was sentenced to death, while the two others who were working at a military base were meted life sentence. The prosecution said the three Filipinos spied by transferring to Philippine officials military and economic information related to the types of aircraft and tanks to be used by the armed …

  • 16 hurt in Jolo police camp blast
    16 hurt in Jolo police camp blast

    Security forces launched a massive hunt for the bombers that set off Friday night two explosives near a mosque inside the Philippine National Police (PNP) Camp Asturias in Jolo, Sulu, injuring 11 police officers and five civilians, including three children. The attack appears to have been well-planned as attackers first lobbed a grenade and waited for responding policemen to arrive before setting off a bigger improvised explosive device (IED). Four of the victims are still in grade school, …

  • POEA seeks close monitoring of Saudi’s situation
    POEA seeks close monitoring of Saudi’s situation

    The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has instructed all recruitment agencies sending Filipino workers to Saudi Arabia to closely monitor the situation in the country because of the escalating hostilities in adjacent Yemen. The POEA issued an advisory instructing recruiters to keep a close watch on the Saudi provinces of Najran, Jizan and Asir, which are situated on the Saudi-Yemen border. The POEA also directed the recruitment agencies to submit a list of all the workers …

  • Army to provide treatment for corporal behind bus hostage incident
    Army to provide treatment for corporal behind bus hostage incident

    The Philippine Army promised mental health treatment for an Army corporal who took at least 20 bus passengers hostage in Camarines Sur on Friday, even as police filed a complaint for slight illegal detention before the Prosecutor’s Office. “If proven that he is mentally unstable, we will not abandon him. Rene Prajele showed signs of being mentally disturbed while in detention at the Del Gallego police station in Camarines Sur, adding that the officers who interviewed him could not get a clear …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options