MANILA, Philippines – The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) has nothing to do with the alleged dumping of hazardous waste in Subic Bay, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Tuesday.
“That is their opinion, but I don't think toxic dumping has anything to do with the VFA. That (dumping) should be treated as a separate issue. We just have to wait for the result of the investigation," he said.
Gazmin also defended the VFA, saying the agreement remains beneficial to the country.
Senator Miriam Santiago, meanwhile, said a Senate inquiry on the matter will push through.
“There are so many factual allegations…the first function of a Senate hearing is to find out which one is true, not only this allegation that what was dumped into our waters was not toxic or hazardous. What if it is not toxic or hazardous, why did they have to dump it?” Santiago said.
She also said that the “mere fact that they dumped, it means that it is not beneficial to our people.”
Santiago added that the reasoning of US contractor Glenn Defense Marine Philippines Inc. that the issue is out of the jurisdiction of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is “baseless.”
“We want to know if it actually took place because if it did, then there is obviously an effort to skirt the issue by choosing the venue,” she said.
The SBMA, meanwhile, insists the waste dumped in Subic Bay on October 15 was not toxic.
SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said waste collected from the waters had a “high level of toxicity,” but it doesn’t mean it is deadly.
He explained that Glenn Defense dumped treated waste water, which contained organic waste that is not harmful to the environment.
Garcia added that the waste water was discharged in the high seas, beyond the 12-mile boundary set to prevent pollution from ships. -- With reports from Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News; ANC