12:31 pm | Sunday, January 5th, 2014
MANILA, Philippines – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) asked the government on Sunday to abandon military access negotiations with the United States after it was revealed that the US has yet to pay for the damage caused by their ship on the Tubbataha Reef.
“The US government has made it abundantly clear that our relations are unequal. It has not paid a single centavo for the destruction caused by the USS Guardian on the Tubbataha Reef. It has made a mockery of our laws,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.
The group chided the PH government for not aggressively pursuing the damage claims, adding that there were many opportunities to do so, including US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the country last month.
“Why allow the US increased military access to our country when the US clearly disregards the protection of the environment? Why allow de facto basing when these ships pose a threat to the environment? It does not make any sense,” Reyes said.
The two countries have started negotiations on a framework agreement for the increased rotational presence of US troops in Philippine soil. It is in line with US plans to realign their troops in the Asia Pacific amid continuing territorial disputes in the region.
Last Thursday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the US has not paid the P58.3 million fine for the damage caused by USS Guardian on the Tubbataha Reef.
Bayan said the amount is not enough. They are asking for a fine “12 times the initial estimate of the Philippine government” in their petition for a Writ of Kalikasan.
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