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  1. #1

    Will the US defend Philippines if China attacks?

    MANILA, Philippines - The US military might not come to the Philippines' aid if Chinese forces attack Filipino ships and claimed territory in the disputed Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, international affairs experts have warned.

    While the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) requires Manila and Washington to support each other if either of the 2 countries are attacked by a third party, the United States has yet to make a full commitment with regard to the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).**

    "The treaty text leaves the extent of US commitments open to interpretation," the ICG said in its latest report on the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

    "While the text calls for the US to respond to an armed attack against the Philippines, Manila only received 'vague* assurances' that Washington would uphold the treaty during the Scarborough standoff," the ICG added.

    "Furthermore, the US has not confirmed whether the scope of the treaty covers contested territories in the South China Sea," said the Brussels-based organization, which advises governments and world bodies like the United Nations, European Union and World Bank on the prevention and resolution of armed conflicts.

    It added that MDT predates the Philippines' territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea, resulting in uncertainties how the US will interpret its application to disputed territories in the event of a conflict.

    US neutral in Philippines-China dispute

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier said Washington is neutral in the Philippines-China dispute and is instead focused on ensuring free navigation, unimpeded commerce and stability in the West Philippine Sea.

    The ICG also mentioned an analysis of* Asian affairs specialist Thomas Lum, who said in an April 2012 report for the Congressional Research Service that the US does not consider the MDT and subsequent renewals to extend to features in the West Philippine Sea.*

    "Some Philippine officials have suggested or sought assurances that the treaty obliges the United States to come to the defense of the Philippines if China were to take disputed territories in the South China Sea by force, while some US interpretations limit US intervention to a foreign military attack on the main Philippine islands or upon Philippine military forces," Lum said.

    However, he added, that "the Obama administration has not further specified the circumstances under which the US armed forces would intervene on behalf of the Philippines."

    "The Manila Declaration of November 16, 2011, did not lay out specifically the circumstances in which the United States would defend Philippine claims in the South China Sea," he said.

    DFA: US will defend Philippines

    Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has issued an official statement saying the Obama administration, through Clinton, renewed its "commitment to the defense of the Philippines" if China attacks Filipino forces in the Spratly Islands.

    Del Rosario also said Clinton, during the "Two Plus Two" meeting between officials of the 2 countries in Washington, D.C. in April this year, "reiterated that the U.S. "reaffirms our commitment and obligations under the mutual defense treaty."

    He said even without an actual armed attack against either the Philippines and the U.S., Article III of the MDT allows officials of the 2 countries to discuss threats in the Pacific.

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino and US President Barack Obama reaffirmed their commitment to the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty, as well as to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, during their bilateral meeting in the White House in June this year.

    The White House said Aquino briefed Obama on the situation in the West Philippine Sea during their one-on-one dialogue.*

    In a statement issued after their meeting, the US leader pledged Washington's support for the upgrade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the building of a "minimum credible defense posture" for Manila.

    Without going into details, Obama said he had discussions with Aquino on various security and military issues, particularly with regard to the US pivot back to Asia, "and reminding everybody that, in fact, the United States considers itself, and is, a Pacific power."


    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Benigno Aquino take center stage at a lunch she hosted for the Philippine leader in Washington, D.C. in June.
    Washington must clarify position

    Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies told the National Bureau of Asian Research that Manila has sought clarification from Washington on how the MDT applies to situations in the West Philippine Sea.

    "Manila seems to think that the MDT covers contingencies in the area, whereas the US position is that the Spratlys are not covered by the MDT because they were only formally claimed by the Philippines in 1978, 27 years after the treaty was signed. However, under the terms of the MDT, both sides would be obliged to consult if the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) came under attack in the South China Sea," he said.

    "Although the United States has given strong rhetorical support to its alliance relationship with the Philippines, in the event of a clash in the South China Sea U.S. military assistance to the AFP would be 'scenario dependent,'" Storey added.

    Walter Lohman, director of the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, believes that Washington must clarify its position on the MDT with regard to the Philippines-China territorial dispute.

    In a May 2012 analysis, "Scarborough Shoal and Safeguarding American Interests," Lohman said previous administrations have issued clear statements on Washington's responsibilities of its ally is attacked.

    He said in 1979, US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance confirmed in an official letter to Philippine Foreign Secretary Carlos P. Romulo that the MDT covers an “attack on Philippines armed forces, public vessels or aircraft” even if such attack does not occur in the “metropolitan territory of the Philippines or island territories under its jurisdiction.”

    "US Ambassador Thomas Hubbard reaffirmed these assurances in 1999 during deliberations over the U.S.–Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement. He also stated unequivocally that 'the U.S. considers the South China Sea to be part of the Pacific Area.' This position has not changed," Lohman said.

    He said the Obama administration must highlight its treaty commitments to the Philippines.

    "The US should make clear to [China] officials privately that in the event of an armed PRC attack on Philippine 'public vessels,' the U.S. must invoke its treaty commitment to declare such action 'dangerous to its own peace and safety' and would initiate formal consultations with the Philippines to determine an appropriate course of action. The nature of its response will be dictated by the nature of the attack," Lohman said.
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  2. #2
    Double post
    COURAGE SAN BEDA! / ¡ÁNIMO SAN BEDA!
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  3. #3
    The US will defend its forward strategic postion in the Pacific font but not specificly the Philiipines at this point. They may not want to operate an additional theater of operation when the Middle East is about to expode into a bigger regional war. If they will engage China, it will start from Syria and Iran. A war wth China, to start in the Pacific, would entail a Chinese reaquisition of their province, Taiwan.
    COURAGE SAN BEDA! / ¡ÁNIMO SAN BEDA!
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  4. #4
    Australia backs code of conduct in disputed sea

    By Michael Lim Ubac

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    2:25 am | Thursday, October 25th, 2012

    CANBERRA, Australia (via PLDT)—The Australian government headed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday joined the Philippines and New Zealand in seeking the adoption of a joint code of conduct for the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to prevent rival territorial claims in the area from leading to armed confrontations.

    Gillard congratulated President Benigno Aquino, who arrived here Tuesday night for a three-day state visit, for his administration’s signing a preliminary peace agreement with Muslim insurgents in Mindanao.

    Mr. Aquino and Gillard had a bilateral meeting and Philippine and Australian ministers had an expanded bilateral meeting on Wednesday. Both meetings were held in Parliament House.

    Australian officials said they wanted stability in the West Philippine Sea, where the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan dispute territories with China.

    During a bilateral meeting with Mr. Aquino on Tuesday in Wellington, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key voiced the same position, emphasizing that his country had always favored peace efforts to settle disputes between nations.

    “Obviously peace and stability in the South China Sea is critical because Asia is the fastest growing partner of the world and we want to see their growth [there],” Key told reporters at a briefing.

    Code discussed

    Following the bilateral meeting here in Canberra, Philippine Ambassador to Australia Belen Anota said the territorial dispute of the Philippines with China in the West Philippine Sea had been discussed during the bilateral meeting with the Australian prime minister and her top officials.

    “Australia’s positions on the West Philippine Sea are very clear, and we understand them. And Australia also fully understands the Philippine position on the West Philippine Sea. So there is, I would say, harmony and understanding,” Anota said.

    Summarizing the position of Australia, Anota said Australia would not take sides in the territorial issue between Manila and Beijing.

    But she said Australia supported “the idea of freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea,” frowned upon the use of force or threat of force to solve the problem and was looking for solution that “must be rules-based, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

    “Both sides, of course, want to see an early conclusion of the code of conduct,” Anota said.

    US support

    The Philippines and Vietnam have been pushing for the adoption of a code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

    The United States supports the Philippines and Vietnam in pressing for a code of conduct to maintain stability and freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea, home to sea-lanes where half of global cargo moves and where islands, reefs and atolls are believed to be sitting on vast deposits of oil and gas.

    Without a code of conduct, any of the claimants could not explore resources in the disputed waters.

    Anota said the code of conduct was not a solely Philippine initiative.

    “We do contribute to the principles that are involved in the code of conduct,” she said. “But Australia strongly supports Asean’s view, which includes the Philippines, of course, that the code of conduct be concluded as soon as possible.”

    Bangsamoro deal

    Anota said the code of conduct was discussed at both the bilateral and the expanded bilateral meetings.

    In a joint statement issued after their bilateral meeting, Gillard congratulated President Aquino on the signing on Oct. 15 of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao that the Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) hope to establish by 2016.

    “Both leaders hoped the agreement would provide a basis for genuine, lasting peace in Mindanao. They agreed that it would now be important for the agreement to be fully implemented, resulting in significant improvements in the security and prosperity of communities across the southern Philippines,” the statement said.

    Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bob Carr enunciated the position of the Gillard government, telling an expanded bilateral that the framework agreement was a “role model” for ending secessionist struggles in the region, according to Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang.

    Carandang and Anota joined the expanded bilateral meeting, where select members of the cabinets of both the Philippines and Australia had a wide-ranging discussion of issues of mutual concerns such as defense, maritime security, trade, tourism and sociocultural affairs.

    “Absolutely, it was discussed and they were very excited that the Philippine government could reach such a major step in forging something that could be a comprehensive, lasting peace,” Carandang told reporters.

    Referring to the numerous developmental and aid projects of Australia, half of which are found in Mindanao, Carandang said:

    Supportive of deal

    “One of the reasons why they had put so much money into that area is they want to see this conflict resolved, so they were really all praise for our efforts to achieve peace, particularly the framework agreement, and they’re very supportive of the framework agreement and the work that has to be done,” Carandang said.

    Australia did not promise new projects or set “new amounts” for aid flowing into war-torn provinces in Mindanao.

    “But they have a number of projects are continuing. They seemed very happy with the pace of the projects they are funding,” said Carandang.

    Carandang said the accord was a “big issue” for Australia and other regional allies, and for which the Philippines was receiving praises all over the world.

    In response to Gillard, the President admitted that much work had to be done in the implementation stage of the framework agreement, Anota said.

    Burning issues

    The Bangsamoro accord, the proposal to further increase agricultural and diversified high-end exports to Australia, the ratification of the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (Sovfa) and the new mining policy under Executive Order No. 79, among other things, were also discussed by both sides.

    This was followed by the signing of an air services agreement with Australia, which is a revision of the existing accord.

    The details of the new air services agreement have not been made public.

    Australian officials also thanked the Philippines for the ratification of the Sovfa, but this was discussed in general terms because details of the joint exercises and training of troops are still currently being ironed out in Manila between officials of both countries, Anota said.

    Mango export

    The Philippines also pushed for increasing the volume of agricultural and diversified high-end exports to Australia.

    “Gillard then announced a recent agreement to extend Australian market access for Philippine mangoes,” the joint statement said.

    “This will be welcomed equally by Australian consumers and mango growers in the Philippines,” it said.

    Welcome ceremony

    President Aquino’s official visit to Australia began Wednesday with a ceremonial welcome before noon at the Government House, where he was accorded a 21-gun salute as he shook hands with the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Quentin Bryce, and her husband, Michael Bryce.

    Australian protocol officers here said that this was the first time a visiting head of state was accorded a ceremonial welcome right on the lawn of Government House, which serves as the office of the governor general who is the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II.

    The queen is the head of state of Australia, as Australia is a member of the British Commonwealth.

    The governor general hosted a state luncheon in honor of Mr. Aquino at the dining room of the Government House, three hours ahead of the President’s meeting with Gillard at the Parliament House.

    Mr. Aquino then laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial and toured select war galleries before sitting down for an interview with an Australian TV journalist.

    State dinner

    A state dinner hosted by Gillard in his honor ended the day’s official engagement, but the President had to leave early because he said he was not feeling well.

    He said this was the case of “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

    He and Gillard left after delivering their respective speeches, leaving the guests to partake of a three-course meal.

  5. #5
    US toxic waste dumped in Subic

    Businesses alarmed, prompting probe

    12:01 am | Friday, November 9th, 2012

    SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is investigating a US Navy contractor for allegedly dumping hazardous wastes on Subic Bay last month.

    SBMA records showed that wastes dumped by the tanker MT Glenn Guardian were collected from American ships that joined the recently concluded joint military exercises in the country.

    The tanker is one of the vessels owned by Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a Malaysian company operating in several countries which services American ships in the Philippines.

    The allegations of waste dumping in Subic Bay have alarmed locators and environmental organizations in the free port.

    Charo Simons, spokesperson of Subic Bay Freeport Chamber for Health and Environment Conservation, said the waste dumping was “deeply troubling to all of us who want to protect the environment in and around the Subic Bay area.”

    “This company has a lot of explaining to do, and the SBMA has a duty to go after this company’s officials if they have endangered not only the environment but also everybody who lives and works here,” Simons said.

    On Oct. 15, SBMA Ecology Center personnel inspected Glenn Guardian, then docked at the Naval Supply Depot area here due to a “hazard call” from another free port locator.

    A copy of the SBMA spot report showed that the tanker was carrying some 189,500 liters of domestic waste and about 760 liters of bilge water (a combination of water, oil and grease), all of which were hauled from Emory Land, a US Navy ship.

    On Oct. 16, a team from the Philippine Coast Guard’s marine pollution division, led by PO1 Enrico Viuda, and SBMA Ecology Center personnel boarded Glenn Guardian and another vessel, MT Glenn Enterprise, to take water samples and see whether the liquid waste was safe to be dumped into the sea.

    But SBMA sources said Edilberto Acedilla, captain of Glenn Guardian, told the team that the liquid wastes had been dumped at least 37 kilometers (20 nautical miles) from Subic Bay.

    An SBMA official involved in the investigation said the Coast Guard had told Acedilla that a permit was necessary since the tankers were dumping water in Philippine territory.

    The official, who asked not to be named because of lack of authority to speak to the media, said the Coast Guard and the SBMA Ecology Center had not issued permits to Glenn Defense Marine Asia for the dumping.

    High toxicity level

    Test results of the water samples conducted by Subic Water and Sewerage Co., the firm contracted by the SBMA to test water samples taken from the vessels, showed that the level of toxicity of the liquid wastes exceeded the norm and went beyond levels set by international marine pollution conventions.

    SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said the results “confirmed that [Glenn Defense Marine Asia] did not treat the waste, which it should have.”

    “There are treatment plants in Central Luzon, where the wastes should have been brought first before they dumped them,” he said.

    Garcia added that although the Glenn Guardian captain claimed that the wastes were dumped in the West Philippine Sea, “they should have treated these first because that contained oily waste.”

    Show cause letter

    Garcia said the SBMA Ecology Center had issued a “show cause” letter to Glenn Defense Marine Asia, asking the company to explain the waste dumping that was supposedly done without proper permits.

    The company, through its lawyers, sent the SBMA a reply on Nov. 6 and said the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, not the government agency administering this free port, has jurisdiction over it.

    Glenn Defense Marine Asia has been servicing vessels in Subic Bay since 2009, according to records. This year alone, 37 US Navy ships were serviced by the company and part of its service is to collect tons of liquid wastes from these ships.

    Retired vice admiral

    The Malaysian company’s Philippine operation is headed by retired Vice Adm. Mateo Mayuga, chair and chief executive officer of Glenn Defense Marine Asia Philippines Inc. Mayuga is a former flag officer in command of the Philippine Navy.

    In July 2005, Mayuga, then inspector general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, headed a panel that investigated the involvement of at least four military generals linked to the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal.

    The scandal involved tapped conversations supposedly between then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano on the alleged rigging of the 2004 presidential election results.

    US Embassy statement

    In a statement sent by e-mail, Cynthia Cook, deputy press attaché of the US Embassy in Manila, said: “We are aware of the allegations against Glenn Defense Marine Philippines, a contractor for the US Navy in the Philippines, and we understand there is an ongoing investigation by the Subic Bay Freeport authorities.”

    Cook, however, said the US government would await the results of the investigation before it imposed sanctions, if any. “We will take appropriate action depending on the outcome of the investigation,” she said.
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  6. #6
    US Navy contractor invokes VFA

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    12:07 am | Friday, November 9th, 2012

    SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—A US Navy contractor accused of dumping toxic wastes on Subic Bay invoked the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), saying the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has no jurisdiction over the company.

    Glenn Defense Marine Asia Philippines Inc., which operates here, took this line of defense in reply to the SBMA Ecology Center’s show cause letter.

    In a Nov. 6 letter, lawyers from the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo and Angangco law firm, who represent Glenn Defense Marine Asia, told the SBMA that the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFACOM) was the sole and proper authority that should handle the concerns and issues it raised on the waste dumping incident.

    The letter was signed by lawyers Kristoffer James Purisima and Bernard Joseph Malibiran.

    “At the outset, it should be pointed out that our client provides marine husbandry and logistics support services (‘support vessels’) solely and exclusively to US Navy vessels visiting the Philippines pursuant to the provisions of the VFA between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States,” Purisima and Malibiran said.

    The VFA provides the legal framework for regulating the presence of American military personnel and equipment in the Philippines, they said.

    “It is clear that vessels operated by or for the United States armed forces—such as the support vessels of our client—may enter the Philippines upon the approval of the government of the Philippines and the movement thereof shall be the subject to mutually acceptable implementing agreements,” they added.

    No mention of dumping

    Nowhere in the letter did the company’s lawyers address the allegations that it had dumped waste water on Subic Bay; it only repeatedly cited provisions in the VFA exempting Glenn Defense Marine Asia from SBMA jurisdiction.

    “Therefore, with all due respect, it is our client’s position that its support vessels are not commercial vessels that are subject to the regulation of your office. Rather, the support vessels solely operate for the benefit of the US armed forces under the stated provisions of the VFA. As such, said support vessels are in the country for at most several days per visit and engage in no other business or purpose except to service visiting US Navy vessels,” the lawyers said.

    “Therefore, the operation of the support vessels is sui generis and beyond the regulatory framework sought to be enforced by your office,” they said.

    “In this respect, please note that matters involving compliance with the provisions of the VFA should be treated by the VFACOM, which is mandated by Executive Order No. 199 dated 17 January 2010 to ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the VFA.”

    The lawyers also cited provisions in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, of which the Philippines is a party, and said: “A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal or domestic law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.”

    They also said that Glenn Defense Marine Asia was a victim of a Filipino firm that alerted the SBMA about its supposed violations.

    “We find it unfortunate, that interlopers with perceived competing business interests continue to harass our client and continue to lobby against the operations of its support vessels, thereby jeopardizing our country’s ability to comply in good faith with its treaty obligations and adversely impact on our national security as it gives rise to doubts on our dependability as a defense and treaty ally of the United States of America,” the lawyers said.

    But SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said Glenn Defense Marine Asia was a registered SBMA locator operating within the free port. “Our position is that they are [bound by our laws]. They cannot claim that [the VFA is their defense],” he said.

    Garcia said the SBMA would file charges against Glenn Defense Marine Asia for its environmental and seaport violations.

    “If any ship comes and goes [within the free port], they have to notify the free port [authorities]. They didn’t,” he said.

    Garcia added: “They claim we have no jurisdiction because of the VFA. I don’t agree with that. As far as I’m concerned, if they violate environmental laws—even if it’s the US Navy—they are liable.”

    “If there’s a violation, the public has the right to know,” he said. Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon
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  7. #7
    Subic waste not hazardous—Mayuga

    By Niña Calleja, Tonette Orejas, Robert Gonzaga

    Inquirer Central Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer

    12:08 am | Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

    The head of the Philippine office of a US Navy contractor on Monday disputed claims by government agencies that it dumped into Subic Bay toxic wastes from American ships that recently took part in joint military exercises in the country.

    Five days after the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported the environment issue, retired Vice Adm. Mateo Mayuga, CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Philippines Inc., called reports about the company dumping hazardous wastes into the bay “inaccurate or false.”

    Mayuga said the local office of a Singapore-based multinational company operating in 27 countries handled domestic wastes from the toilets and kitchens of US Navy ships, but, according to him, these were safe for disposal.

    “What we get from the US Navy are already pretreated wastewater. These are even cleaner than the ones coming out of our respective homes. I’m sorry to say that,” Mayuga told reporters Monday at a press briefing in Makati City.

    Roberto Garcia, chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), earlier told reporters that test results showed that Glenn Defense vessels were carrying “sewage waste with high levels of toxicity.”

    Garcia said the results “confirmed that [Glenn Defense] did not treat the waste, which it should have.”

    Lab tests

    Hernan Habacon, spokesperson of Subic Water and Sewerage Co. that tested water samples from a Glenn Defense vessel, said the results showed that these were “beyond the permissible limits.”

    Results of the tests obtained by the Inquirer showed that samples of effluents taken from vessels of the US Navy contractor exceeded Philippine standards, but these were not tested for heavy metals because the firm that conducted the tests, Subic Water, was not equipped to do so.

    Even so, the SBMA Ecology Center said wastes collected from American ships and dumped into Philippine waters last month could not be classified as “hazardous wastes.”

    Asked to confirm reports that the center had told the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) that the wastes dumped by Glenn Defense’s vessels could not be considered hazardous, Angel Bagaloyos, acting head of the center, said in a text message: “Technically, yes.”

    Asked to elaborate, Bagaloyos said: “By law, Republic Act No. 6969, sewage is exempted. The law on hazard waste management identifies hazard waste.”

    RA 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990) defines hazardous wastes as “substances that are without any safe commercial, industrial, agricultural or economic usage and are shipped, transported or brought from the country of origin for dumping or disposal into or in transit through any part of the territory of the Philippines.”

    “Hazardous wastes shall also refer to by-products, side-products, process residues, spent reaction media, contaminated plant or equipment or other substances from manufacturing operations, and as consumer discards of manufactured products,” it says.

    Septage

    Citing information shared by the SBMA at a technical conference in Pampanga on Monday where things were supposedly clarified, EMB Director for Central Luzon Lormelyn Claudio said: “It is septage, not hazardous waste. It’s domestic waste.”

    Asked by the Inquirer to explain that in layman’s term, she said: “Feces.”

    Whether the effluents were at hazardous levels is still subject to laboratory tests, she said.

    Where exactly the wastes were dumped will be established by the SBMA, she said.

    37 km from bay

    The SBMA, in a spot inspection report on Oct. 15, said it was told by the captain of a Glenn Defense vessel, the MT Glenn Guardian, that the wastes would be dumped at least 37 kilometers from Subic Bay last month.

    The SBMA team found some 189,500 liters of domestic waste and about 760 liters of bilge water (a combination of water, oil and grease) during an inspection of the vessel. These were hauled from the US Navy ship Emory Land.

    Mayuga said he would never let dumping of toxic waste into Subic Bay happen. “I’m also a Filipino,” he said.

    US Navy responsibility

    Mayuga said it was the responsibility of the US Navy to ensure that the wastewater had undergone treatment.

    “The US Navy and even commercial vessels have water treatment facilities aboard their ships,” said Mayuga, who in 2005 led a military inquiry into the involvement of at least four generals tagged in the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal during the Arroyo administration.

    Asked if the US Navy contractor had a way of knowing whether the water passed to its tankers was treated, Mayuga said: “They have to make sure that the water had been pretreated.”

    “Our clients must do the testing themselves. It’s a practice in the US Navy that you don’t give away untreated wastewater,” Mayuga added.

    He refused to answer the question on who should be blamed if the water dumped into the sea was toxic. “There are procedures to know who dumped the wastewater. We have the technology now to determine who the source was,” he said.

    Glenn Defense also serviced the 103 ships that made calls at the Subic Bay Freeport from Oct. 3 to Dec. 22, 2009, Jan. 5 to Oct. 12, 2010, Aug. 21 to Nov. 10, 2011, and Jan. 2 to Oct. 17, 2012, records released by the SBMA showed.

    Investigations

    Mayuga said he was open to any investigation. “As long as it (claim) is valid, we welcome this. That’s the only way to move forward.”

    Pleading to the media to honor only the sources that are willing to be named, he said “all this [controversy] started from one inaccurate report that took on a life of its own.”

    Mayuga said the report had originated from anonymous calls the SBMA had received.

    The US Navy and the SBMA have launched an investigation of the allegations of hazardous-waste dumping by Glenn Defense.
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  8. #8
    ( ^ Continued)

    Suspended

    Pending the results of the investigation, the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce also announced it had suspended the membership of the contractor, a registered locator at the Subic Bay Freeport.

    An internal investigation on Glenn Defense’s part, however, was no longer necessary, Mayuga said.

    “After every ship visit, we do a hotwash. It’s a critical analysis we do on how we had performed, both the good and the bad (aspects),” he said. “And we have done nothing wrong.”

    Mayuga said he found it ironic that his company was at the center of an environmental controversy when he and his family have been concerned about the environment.

    “I have a daughter who owns two organic stores. She’s a vegetarian. Our grandchildren prefer organic materials at home. How could I violate environmental laws and still have the gall to face them?” he said.

    “We are a responsible company and we will do everything without compromise to observe established standards of releasing pretreated waste to the ocean at the internationally prescribed distances,” he said.

    Mayuga said he was still waiting for the SBMA Ecology Center to call him for a meeting on the matter.

    Contrary to reports that Glenn Defense was hiding under the skirt of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Mayuga said the company was not covered by the bilateral agreement “nor do we claim to be.”

    “We service only US Navy ships but we are not in any way included in VFA arrangements,” he said.

    Bagaloyos did not reply to the Inquirer’s query if the SBMA Ecology Center had examined the entire composition of the wastewater samples taken from the Glenn Defense vessels.

    While the EMB was holding the technical conference, the SBMA board held an emergency meeting at Gateway Mall in Quezon City on the findings of the SBMA Ecology Center regarding the issue of waste dumping into Subic Bay.

    Garcia did not respond to the Inquirer’s calls and text messages on the results of the board meeting.

    Beyond permissible limits

    Habacon, spokesperson for Subic Water, said in a statement: “The SBMA Ecology Center sent us a sample for [laboratory] testing, allegedly from the said vessel, [MT] Glenn Guardian. We tested it for domestic strength only, and the results showed that it was beyond the permissible limits. The sample is of industrial strength.”

    Subic Water treats only domestic wastewater and it has no capability to test the presence of heavy metals, Habacon said.

    “The result we sent to SBMA Ecology Center, therefore, is not conclusive whether the sample is toxic or not. But as per our standards, the sample was not fit for release in the environment as the organic content was beyond the permissible limits,” he said.

    A source familiar with the investigation of the SBMA Ecology Center told the Inquirer: “The mere fact that the wastewater was industrial grade means it is already hazardous to the environment, and violates DENR Administrative Order No. 35, which contains the standard for the discharging of treated wastewater.”

    The source, who asked not to be named due to the sensitive nature of the issue, said the water samples also contained oil and grease, “which can be classified as hazardous.”

    Sought for comment on the SBMA Ecology Center’s findings, former Environment Undersecretary Gregorio Magdaraog, president of the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber for Health and Environment Conservation said:

    “Fecal waste in water pollutes the environment with pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause disease to humans and other living creatures. Serious diseases can be caused [by this].”

    “It is therefore hazardous to one’s health and the environment. To say otherwise is irresponsible,” he said.

    EMB’s Claudio said a maritime pollution law required that effluents be treated when these are discharged 5.5 kilometers (3 nautical miles) from the coast.

    Asked if the contractor applied for a permit to dump or collect waste from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Lt. Cmdr. Roben de Guzman said: “As far as I know it should [get permits from] other agencies, not us.”

    De Guzman, station commander of Subic and head of the PCG’s Port State Control Center Manila, said MT Glenn Guardian and MT Glenn Enterprise were sighted in Manila two weeks ago.
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  9. #9
    China air force in large-scale drill amid tensions

    Associated Press

    6:46 pm | Friday, December 7th, 2012

    BEIJING—China’s air force has staged one of its largest-ever drills amid heightened tensions with Japan and Beijing’s southern neighbors over territorial claims, state media reported Friday.

    The air combat exercises involving more than 100 pilots were held over 11 days last month in the vast northwestern region of Xinjiang, according to the website of the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily and other official news outlets.

    Pilots practiced engaging in dog fights and countering electro-magnetic interference, the reports said.

    Aircraft taking part came from 14 separate units and included China’s most modern jet fighters, the J-10 and J-11, along with older models and two-seater Sukhoi Su-30s purchased from Russia, the reports said.

    The exercises are a vivid demonstration of China’s vastly improved military capabilities that have unnerved other Asian nations and spur a renewed US focus on the region. The Global Times newspaper published by People’s Daily called them the largest in recent years in both firepower and numbers of aircraft, and said they also involved large numbers of technicians and experts on missiles, radar and other related technologies.

    They came amid stepped-up sea patrols around East China Sea islands claimed by China but controlled by Japan that followed an explosion of violent anti-Japanese protests across China in September.

    Beijing has dispatched China Marine Surveillance vessels almost daily to confront Japanese Coast Guard cutters around the uninhabited rocks north of Taiwan, known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Taiwan, which calls the islands Diaoyutai, also claims them.

    The drills also follow renewed feuding between China and other claimants to islands and maritime territory in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Aggressive patrolling by Chinese vessels has prompted Vietnam and the Philippines to bolster their forces with additional ships, planes, and submarines, and has drawn in the US, which insists on free navigation through the region of crucial shipping lanes and rich fishing stocks and undersea mineral wealth.

    While the exercises were being held, China’s navy also for the first time launched and recovered aircraft from the country’s first aircraft carrier, a refurbished Ukrainian craft that will be armed with J-15 fighter-bombers, a Chinese adaptation of the Russian Sukhoi Su-33.

  10. #10
    US, PH to hold strategic talks amid tensions in disputed sea

    By Fatima Reyes

    INQUIRER.net

    6:10 pm | Monday, December 10th, 2012

    MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines and the United States will be holding strategic bilateral talks on defense and the rule of law amid heightened tensions in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

    In a press briefing for reporters, Carlos Soreta, Assistant Secretary for the Office of American Affairs, said that the third Bilateral Strategic Dialogue—to be held Dec. 11 to 12—would tackle the subjects of defense; economics and trade; rule of law; and regional and global issues.
    Soreta said the talks would be chaired by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio, whom President Benigno Aquino III had earlier delegated as the country’s new Ambassador to China, and National Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino for the Philippine government; and State Department Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell and Defense Assistant Secretary Mark Lippert for the US.

    When asked whether the talks would center around the issue of disputes involving the West Philippine Sea, Soreta said, “It’s very hard to disassociate this meeting with what’s happening in the West Philippine Sea.”

    The disputes among claimant countries have heightened in recent weeks, with a report of China’s plan to board and seize ships that enter what it claims to be its territory in the disputed sea.

    China claims nearly the entire sea, while the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan claim parts of the area, believed to be the site of oil and gas deposits.

    China’s purported plan came days after it issued new passports bearing a map showing China’s nine-dash claims in the West Philippine Sea. Both the Philippines and Vietnam have refused to stamp the Chinese e-passports in protest of China’s claims, and have also sought China’s clarification on its new maritime patrol rules.

    The United States, whose military is “pivoting” to Asia after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is also seeking clarification of the new rules.

    Soreta explained that the foremost agenda for defense was the increased rotational presence of American troops in the country. He clarified, however, that discussions for now concentrated on “more presence and activities in areas that are agreed upon by both parties.”

    “Working groups will be discussing strategic guidelines on how this increased rotational presence could enhance the humanitarian and disaster relief dimension of our activities,” Soreta said.

    Soreta stressed that the country was thankful to the US for its commitment to contribute to the peace and stability in the region, the rule of law and the strength of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

    “But for our part, we believe the increased rotational presence helps give us the diplomatic space of which to work some of our legal and political strategies… it gives us some strategic breathing space to engage other parties in trying to help solve our problem,” Soreta said.

    Soreta said that the Philippines and US shared deep values and that given that, “we feel that the US would be more prone to promote peace, to promote rule of law than what others might say is to promote their own interests.”

    He also emphasized that the said talks, as part of diplomacy, should not be a cause for alarm for any region.

    Manila has consistently called for a peaceful resolution to the dispute according to international law, but China has insisted that disputes should be dealt with using bilateral negotiations.

    Soreta said the Philippines seeks the settlement of disputes through the rule of law, and that he believed the US was the appropriate country to talk about this.

    He said that it was clear that the United States was engaged in the region, and that it sent the right signal that states must behave in a reasonable way and in a lawful way.

    He said that he believed that improving the country’s relations with the US “puts us in a better position,” but that with or without the US, the Philippines would maintain its stand and claims to the West Philippine Sea.

    “The last thing we want to do is for the conflict to heat up but the price of that is not us giving up on our claim there,” Soreta said.


 
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