Glenn Defense Liable For Dumping

MANILA, Philippines --- The Senate committees on foreign relations and environment and natural resources said Glenn Defense Marine Asia should be made liable for dumping hazardous wastes in Subic Bay last October 2012 and recommended that the government file charges against Glenn Defense for its failure to comply with the country's environmental and marine protection laws and regulations.

Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the foreign relations committee, which headed the Senate inquiry into the toxic wastes dumping incident, also debunked Glenn Defense's claims it is contracted by the US Navy to service its military ships and is covered by the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Legarda, in her 134-paged committee report, said Glenn Defense is actually a Philippine-registered company providing husbanding and relations services to visiting US ships contrary to its earlier assertions. The company, she said, is not operating vessels for the United States Armed Forces and its employees are not part of the US personnel as defined in the VFA.

"Glenn Defense is not covered by the VFA...These were false claims made by Glenn Defense to escape coverage from Philippine laws and regulations. It operates under a service agreement with Glenn Defense Marine (Asia) Pte Ltd, a private corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of Singapore," said Legarda.

"Glenn Defense, therefore, can be likened to a sub-contractor that is liable for any omission or violation it may have committed in the course of providing contracted services to US Navy ships," she said.

The committee report recommends that the government through the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) to initiate administrative proceedings against Glenn Defense for its failure to comply with the country's environmental and marine protection laws and regulations and to impose the necessary penalties as warranted.

The company also failed to comply with the regulatory and permitting requirements of the government when it dumped around 200,000 liters of sewage waste in Philippine sea waters on Oct. 15, 2012.

Legarda said that in its report to the Senate, the PCG declared that "there is no record to show that subject vessel or the owner/operator of Glenn Defense Marine (Asia) Philippines Incorporated had forwarded any request for dumping or discharging of sewage waste" to the PCG.

"Glenn Defense, by practice, has been dumping sewage waste collected from US Navy ships into the seawaters over the years without permits from the government. A certification from Subic Water showed that from October 15 to November 19, 2012, more than 4 million liters of sewage were collected from just one US ship. Had it not been for the investigation, these wastes would have probably found its way again into our seawaters," Legarda said.

The committee report also found out that the sewage wastes dumped by Glenn Guardian on October 15, 2012 in sea waters were found to be in excess of permitted effluent standards in violation of DENR standards. The laboratory results also showed the presence of alarming levels of oil and grease, wastes considered hazardous under Republic Act. No. 6969.

Apart from this, Glenn Defense, she said, is not an accredited sewage waste collector or collector of other related harmful substance, violating a PCG memorandum Circular 03-2005. It did not also dump the sewage wastes in the duly-designated dumping areas identified under the PCG circular.

The Senate, however, said it also questioned how Glenn Defense was able to secure from Maritime Industry Authority two exemption permits in 2011 even as marine regulations, effective at that time, required such permits as a pre-requisite for the temporary operation of foreign vessels in the country.

"This action on the part of MARINA deserves scrutiny considering that this action contravenes the very policies that RA 9295, the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004, sought to promote, including that of ensuring the continued viability of domestic shipping operations and the provision of necessary assistance and incentives for the continued growth of the Philippine domestic merchant marine fleet," the senator said.

"While conflicting interests are evident in the issues at hand, it is indisputable that Glenn Defense has violated Philippine laws," the report said.

Legarda also reiterated that the VFACOM (Presidential Commission on the VFA) mandate of 'ensuring respect for Philippine Laws, state policies, and strict compliance with the rules and regulations promulgated by the concerned departments and agencies under Executive Order No. 199 needs to be strongly enforced.

"This incident and the unfortunate grounding of a US minesweeper in Tubbataha Reef are two different incidents, grounded on the same issue - the need for better coordinative and implementing arrangements to ensure "respect for Philippine laws, state policies...and strict compliance with rules and regulations" by our treaty partner and all entities performing services outside of the VFA, but related to its implementation," she said.

"There is something terribly wrong, when a private commercial entity, instead of rectifying its omissions and violation of laws, claim that a Senate investigation results to waste of government time and resources. The findings in this report speak for itself. Our government agencies need to understand that in any Agreement or Treaty, national interest is first and second to none," Legarda said.