MANILA, Philippines - Malacanang will leave it to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to investigate the alleged dumping of hazardous wastes in Subic Bay by a United States Navy contractor.
Asked if the Palace will already step into the mess, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, “SBMA is already conducting its own, we might only have a parallel investigation…Let’s just wait for what they’ll turn up with.”
According to Valte, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago already likewise announced plans of a legislative inquiry against Malaysian firm Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
Still, Malacanang does not agree with Santiago that the firm is covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“The VFA does not apply…Glenn Defense is a third-party corporation, so it does not fall there,” Valte said.
In calling for the inquiry, Santiago said the act of pollution by dumping hazardous wastes is within the concern of the VFA. She said it is also a breach of obligation under Philippine laws against pollution from ships.
The ecology center of the SBMA reportedly inspected the MT Glenn Guardian, a tanker owned by Glenn Defense on October 15, 2012.
Edilberto Acedilla, captain of Glenn Guardian, allegedly revealed during the spot inspection that they were carrying around 50,000 gallons of domestic waste and around 200 gallons of bilge water (a combination of water, oil, and grease), all of which were hauled from a US Navy ship.
Acedilla alleged that the water in the tanks had been treated, and that their usual practice was to dump these liquid wastes 20 nautical miles from Subic Bay.
This is not the first time Glenn Marine has been accused of environmental violations, Santiago said.
In 2011, Glenn Marine was also charged for dumping liquid waste a few miles from Manila Bay, she said. That case is still pending with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.