6 February 2013
Calling PNoy’s action “deplorable,” environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) condemned President Benigno Aquino III for welcoming the US Ambassador’s suggestion to post US Navy guards in the Tubbataha Reef Park to aid the rehabilitation of the area run aground by the warship USS Guardian.
“How could the highest leader of the land even entertain the idea of allowing the US Navy to guard Tubbataha, when it was their personnel that violated our law and destroyed our reefs? Conceding to the US Ambassador’s suggestion escapes logic, and reaches a new height of stupidity and puppetry,” Kalikasan National Coordinator Clemente Bautista said.
The president publicly acknowledged US Ambassador Harry Thomas’ proposal to let the US Navy guard the Tubbataha Reef National Park in a development forum in Davao City earlier today. Tubbataha, covering 130,028 hectares of reef, is considered as the most diverse marine ecosystem in the world and is declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a World Heritage Site.
“Aquino is not showing any signs of opposition to this plan and instead seems to welcome the presence of US naval guards in Tubbataha. As President he should assert our sovereignty and national dignity, not blindly follow any suggestion from the US,” said Bautista.
Kalikasan also slammed the Aquino administration for failing to file criminal charges against the liable sailors in the Tubbataha grounding and willfully submitting to the US Navy’s plan to salvage the ship and stay in the marine park indefinitely.
The US Naval Sea Systems Command contracted the SMIT Salvage Singapore for USD 25 Million to conduct the salvaging operation of USS Guardian in Tubbataha. Based on the contract, the operation is expected to last until December 2013.
Prior to Thomas’ proposal, the US Navy offered the establishment of security and communication equipment to secure the Tubbataha area and avoid future marine accidents in the national park.
“A conspiracy is unfolding before us. First the US Navy trespassed and stuck into Tubbataha; second, the US as a sign of ‘goodwill’ want to install security facilities in the area; third they say their salvaging operation will last until the end of 2013; and now they want to deploy US military forces to guard the whole park. It is obvious that the real interest of the US is to establish a naval base in Tubbataha and control the reef area.
More ridiculous is we have a President who thinks there is nothing anomalous about it” ended Bautista.
Clemente Bautista, 09228449787