Palace: Subic waste issue not VFA-related

Posted at 11/19/12 8:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Allegations about the dumping of wastes at Subic Bay by a US Navy contractor will not affect the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, a Palace official said Monday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the issue is environmental and not military-related.

Lacierda said all ships traversing Philippine waters are subject to the the country's anti-pollution laws.

"This does not affect the Visiting Forces Agreement. This is an environmental issue; this is a marine pollution issue regardless of whether one is covered by a VFA or not, as long as you traverse within Philippine waters, you have to abide by our anti-marine pollution laws," Lacierda said.

He, however, said the Palace respects the plan of Senator Miriam Santiago to file a resolution calling for the termination of the VFA because of the waste-dumping issue.

Santiago told media last week that the Senate, with its power to approve and suspend the Philippines' international agreements, can 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 has 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. - with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News