Feb 062013
The Senate committees on foreign relations and environment and natural resources are recommending administrative and criminal proceedings be started against Malaysian shipping firm Glenn Defense Marine Asia for dumping waste into Philippine waters last year.

In a speech delivered Wednesday, Senate foreign relations committee chair Senator Loren Legarda said that the two panels are recommending that the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) file administrative charges and impose the necessary penalty against Glenn Defense for failure to comply with the country’s environmental and marine protection laws.

She said they are also recommending that the three agencies suspend all permits issued to Glenn Defense until the completion of the sanctions and proceedings.

She also said that they are recommending that the Department of Justice further investigate the matter and determine if Glenn Defense shouldd be blacklisted and if criminal cases should be filed.

Legarda said that they are likewise recommending the review of the Visiting Forces Agreement to ensure that it is compliant with Philippine laws.

“This incident and the unfortunate grounding of a US minesweeper in Tubbataha Reef are two different incidents, grounded on the same issue – the need for better coordinative and implementing arrangements to ensure, as stated in the Executive Order creating the VFACOM, ‘respect for Philippine laws, state policies… and strict compliance with rules and regulations’ by our treaty partner and all entities performing services outside of the VFA,” she said.

“Our government agencies need to understand that in any Agreement or Treaty, national interest is first and second to none,” she added.

Violation of PHL laws

Legarda said their inquiry revealed that the Malaysian firm’s vessel MT Glenn Guardian violated Philippine laws when it dumped 200,000 liters of sewage waste into Philippine waters covered by the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on October 15, 2012.

The waste water was reportedly “beyond the permissible limits.”

Legarda said the Senate investigation showed that the dumping of sewage wastes collected from US ships has beed the usual practice of Glenn Defense over the past years.

“We are talking here of millions of liters of sewage wastes disposed at sea by Glenn Defense over a period of time, without the requisite permits from the government. They do not even have the necessary accreditation as waste collectors from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority,” she said.

During a Senate inquiry last November, the SBMA and the PCG said Glenn Defense did not acquire a permit to dump waste into Subic Bay waters.

Legarda said that their investigation also showed that the sewage wastes were dumped in areas outside the designated dumping sites, which is another violation of Philippine regulations.

Glenn Defense chair and retired Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga had said that they released waste water 17 miles from the shoreline, an area which he said is already considered the “high seas.”

He said this was not Philippine territory and only part of the country’s EEZ.

PCG officer-in-charge and vice commandant for operations Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr., however, said their memorandum states that a permit is needed for dumping wastes “within the territorial jurisdiction and EEZ of the Philippines.” — DVM, GMA News

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