Santiago wants VFA terminated

by Ryan Chua and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 12 2012 08:14 PM | Updated as of Nov 13 2012 07:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago revived her call to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States because of the recently reported dumping in Subic Bay of wastes from US Navy ships.

Santiago told reporters that she will file a resolution on Wednesday calling on the Senate, with its power to approve and suspend the Philippines' international agreements, to abrogate the VFA.

"I think it's time to raise the issue of the VFA as we have done in the past few decades because this time, we see that the pivot to Asia of the Obama administration might mean more marine pollution for the Philippines," she said.

Santiago also filed on Monday a resolution calling for a probe on the dumping of wastes in Subic Bay by a US Navy contractor, which claimed it is not under the jurisdiction of the Philippine government because of the VFA.

Santiago said the recent incident in Subic has become an international law problem.

"Because of the possible further complications of the matter of marine pollution in our country, we should just abrogate the VFA and start all over again," she said.

Santiago has called for the termination of the VFA several times in the past. She believes it has done nothing to help the country.

"The VFA has brought us nothing but grief," she said. "It has brought us very much less military aid and assistance than other countries where there are no basing agreements."

Subic Bay waste dumping

Santiago and colleagues Loren Legarda and Koko Pimentel separately filed their resolutions seeking an investigation into the alleged dumping of toxic waste by M/T Glenn Guardian.

"There's a direct violation of international law not necessarily of the VFA. Because of a possible further complication on the matter of marine pollution, we should just abrogate the VFA and start all over again," she said in her resolution.

"What's the point of giving the US the VFA? I don't understand this. We've always been taken for granted," she added.

Santiago wants to know if local authorities were prevented from investigating previous incidents of toxic waste dumping on Philippine waters because of the VFA.

"Is there another attempt to stonewall? Eventually, we'll get around to the issue of VFA. Start the process in the Senate."

Santiago said the US will be dealing with a more educated Filipino citizenry now because of the internet.