Thomas: US Navy contractor to respect PH laws

By Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 14 2012 12:59 AM | Updated as of Nov 14 2012 10:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines - US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. said yesterday that the US Navy contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia – accused of dumping waste into Subic Bay – was expected to respect Philippine laws although it is not covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Thomas said the US will wait for the results of a full investigation by the Philippine government and the Senate into the alleged dumping of wastes.

“I want to be clear. We oppose economic, environmental degradation. We oppose illegal dumping. We are aware of the allegations against Glenn Defense Marine. We will wait and see what the results are of that investigation,” Thomas said during the weekly Bulong Pulungan at Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

The Glenn Defense Marine Asia is the subject of investigation by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) after one of the contractor’s vessels, the M/T Glenn Guardian, allegedly dumped waste it collected from US ships that participated in the recent military exercises in the country.

“This is a firm that the US Navy hired and we expect them to respect and perform in accordance with Philippine law. They are not under VFA,” Thomas added.

Meanwhile, despite claims that no toxic or hazardous wastes were dumped, the Senate will proceed with its investigation into the alleged waste-dumping incident in Subic by the US Navy contractor.

Senate committee on foreign relations chair Loren Legarda said wastes were dumped in Philippine waters and this could result in the “poisoning of the source of life of Filipinos.

“An investigation is in order because of the conflicting reports. We should not limit it to that vessel alone in Subic Bay because this may be just the tip of the iceberg and it’s probably happening under our nose in our sea without our knowing,” Legarda said.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who filed a resolution calling for an inquiry into the incident, said the hearing would sort through the various reports coming out and determine which one is true.

Santiago said it does not matter whether what was dumped was toxic or not, because the mere fact that they dumped something off their vessel meant the substance was not beneficial to human beings.He said the two cleared the air on the issue that almost ripped their relationship as brothers.

“What kind of argument is that? That it is not hazardous or toxic therefore we have a right to dump it? Whether or not it was toxic or hazardous why did they have to dump it?” Santiago said in an interview with reporters yesterday.– With Alexis Romero, Ric Sapnu, Marvin Sy