This was after the USS Guardian, a US Navy minesweeper, ran aground the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea on Thursday morning. The US ship is posed to cause even more extensive devastation of the coral reef after taking in water and starting sinking today. Park rangers failed to determine the scope of the initial damage done to the marine sanctuary after being threatened by the US Navy personnel when they attempted to approach the site.
“More than just the destruction of our environmental treasures, this blatant display of arrogance to Philippine environmental authorities shows the US’ disregard to our independence and right to self-determination,” exclaims LFS Deputy Secretary General Miguel Cruz.
The LFS has long been critical of US military in the Philippines, declaring the presence of US troops and other military equipment in the country unconstitutional. Indeed, reports reveal that the USS Guardian was not even given clearance to navigate through the reef as required by law. The crew also neglected to report the incident, with local authorities only discovering about the mishap after park rangers found the ship already grounded.
“It is clear that there is no place for the US military in the Philippines. Setting themselves above the law even after destroying our natural riches is one of the biggest insults of the US to Philippine sovereignty and the Filipino people,” says Cruz.
The youth group also criticized the Aquino administration for its inaction over the incident. “Aquino should likewise be held responsible for what happened. His refusal to decisively evict the US military from the Philippines gives way for accidents like these with various US war machines operating and roaming our country as they please,” points out Cruz.
The LFS encouraged every Filipino to intensify the call to junk the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), both of which have been the alibi of the government when asked about the unlimited access of the US to the country.
“Aquino’s willingness to turn the Philippines into a US military base and his reluctance to junk the VFA and MDT reveals his loyalty not to the Filipino nation, but to his Imperialist masters. It is up to the people then to rally together and junk these pro-US treaties, and to reclaim the Philippines for the Filipino nation’s own democratic interests,” concludes Cruz. ###