Loren wants stronger enforcement of laws by VFA commission
MANILA (UPDATE) - The Senate committee on foreign relations is recommending administrative and possible criminal charges against a US Navy contractor that dumped 200,000 liters of sewage wastes in Subic Bay, saying the incident was a clear violation of Philippine laws.
Sen. Loren Legarda, the committee's chair, said in a privilege speech on Wednesday that MT Glenn Guardian, a vessel owned by Glenn Defense Marine Asia, dumped wastes from US ships beyond the designated sites.
The committee, which investigated the incident, also found that the vessel was not accredited as a waste collector by both the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
Among the committee's recommendations is for the SBMA, DENR, and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to suspend all permits issued to Glenn Defense while the administrative proceedings against it are pending.
It proposes that the DENR and PCG coordinate with the Department of Justice to file criminal or civil charges against Glenn Defense, and to determine if it should be blacklisted.
The committee also urges Congress to strengthen laws against marine pollution, and craft measures imposing stiffer penalties for violations, such as the waste dumping incident.
Legarda called for a stronger enforcement of the mandate of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement.
She said that based on her committee's probe, there were lapses in the enforcement of the agreement's regulations. This was also the case, Legarda added, in the recent grounding of a US minesweeper in Tubbataha Reef, a world heritage site.
"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 … by our treaty partner," Legarda said.
"Our government agencies need to understand that in any agreement of treaty, national interest is first and second to none."