10 November 2012
Militant workers’ union center Kilusang Mayo Uno slammed Glenn Defense Marine Asia, military contractor of the US Navy, amidst revelations that the latter dumped US hazardous wastes on Subic Bay last month, saying the incident highlights the unequal and exploitative nature of US-Philippines relations as embodied in the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
According to the records of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, wastes dumped by the tanker MT Glenn Guardian came from American ships that participated in the recent joint military exercises in the country.
Lawyers from Glenn Defense Marine Asia neither confirmed nor denied the allegations, but instead invoked a VFA provision and argued that the contractor is accountable only to the Presidential Commission on the VFA or VFACOM, thereby shielding it from the government administrative agency’s prosecution.
“Glenn Defense Marine Asia must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of Philippine laws by Philippine prosecuting agencies for its glaring violation of Republic Act 9275 or The Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004. Its lawyers need to brush up on their law and realize that the VFACOM is simply a monitoring entity and does not have judicial powers to resolve legal disputes,” KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog said.
“We also hold the governments of the US and the Philippines accountable for this. Their collusion is putting the lives and livelihood of Filipinos, as well as the environment, in danger,” he added.
Labog also slammed the US government, saying it has a major responsibility for the incident as the prime architect and sole beneficiary of the unequal provisions of the VFA.
“The US government cannot distance itself from this issue. In its entire history of military basing in the country, its forces have repeatedly mocked and transgressed Philippine laws with impunity,” Labog said.
“Now, to cushion itself from direct blame and ensuing public outrage in case any trouble or mishap occurs in its operations in a host country, the US government has found it convenient to hire private contractors, like Glenn Defense Marine Asia, that are more than willing to do its dirty job for a price. That’s how scheming US imperialism is,” he added.
Labog likewise slammed the VFACOM for blocking previous investigation by the Environmental Management Bureau on the environmental violations committed by Glenn Defense Marine Asia in its function as a US Navy contractor, saying the VFACOM has consistently functioned as a prop of the US in the country in instances where it has found itself in legal debacle.
The KMU chairperson also reiterated that only the absolute and unqualified abrogation of the VFA can the country be freed from the vicious cycle of infringement of national sovereignty and neo-colonial exploitation by the US.
“The VFA has brought nothing but our further humiliation as a supposedly free nation: from the rape of our sovereignty, to the rape of our women, and now the environment. It should be junked immediately,” he said.
Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, 0908-1636597