US Navy contractor invokes VFA

A+
A
A-

UNDER PROBE. The MT Glenn Guardian docked at Alava Pier on Subic Bay. ROBERT GONZAGA/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

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

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • opinyonlangpo

    VFA my behind. If the contractor dumped toxic waste in the Philippine waters, the authorities should arrest those responsible immediately. The VFA does not allow poisoning of the waters of the Philippines as in poisoning the people who use those waters as source of food. The contractor thinks all Filipinos are i d i o ts, now where are all those tough politicians with the balls oh some without balls too. Why wait for the president if a huge crime was committed?

  • AFPako

    These people dont give a shzt about anything . To them the Philippines is a third world hellhole and why would they give a rat’s azz obeying our laws. These people need to be arrested and brought to face the camera for all to see. 

  • fredrickbastiat

    But nonoy and congress brought them here.

  • Guest

    No, he more likes the “American cream”.

  • Mamang Pulis

    He has no right to invoke VFA.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NYKIOQEDTUD4FPPPVHP6XMFNEA Raul

    These toxic are from China. Sent it back to them!

  • RightCowLeftCoast

    Shame on this law firm for sullying the relations of the Philippines and the United States by attempting to incorrectly interpret the VFA in the manor which they have. Moreover, the United States Navy, who has provided a great living for hundreds of thousands of FilAms, should as quickly as possible end the contract with this company which is sullying its good name in one of its most important port of call. The US Navy can do so much better than this company.
    Additionally, may I advocate a renewed ability for Filipino citizens to enlist in the United States Navy, and the repeal of the Rescission Act of 1946.

  • sh1seadad

    To all you People complaining. Go to Olongapo City head to the Subic Freeport before you get to the gate of the Freeport there is a bridge under that bridge is a river and that river is the dirtiest smelliest river water in the world. It is full of raw sewage and toxic to every living thing and guess where it go right in to Subic Bay on two sides of the river. I would invite all you people that are blogging here to that means you Bayan and Santigo and all you other’s here go look for your selves and shut up because to see this river you must all be shy. Be my guest come to Olongapo and down Magsaysay Drive to the bridge and look down you must all be shy and ashamed of this river maybe someone should call Green Peace to have that checked out. And all you bloggers that have never seen this or checked out this river you need to do that because the Filipino people are killing themselves with this river running into Subic Bay.You must point your fingers at yourselves first before pointing at others.  SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • sh1seadad

    To all you People complaining. Go to Olongapo City head to the Subic Freeport before you get to the gate of the Freeport there is a bridge under that bridge is a river and that river is the dirtiest smelliest river water in the world. It is full of raw sewage and toxic to every living thing and guess where it go right in to Subic Bay on two sides of the river. I would invite all you people that are blogging here to that means you Bayan and Santigo and all you other’s here go look for your selves and shut up because to see this river you must all be shy. Be my guest come to Olongapo and down Magsaysay Drive to the bridge and look down you must all be shy and ashamed of this river maybe someone should call Green Peace to have that checked out. And all you bloggers that have never seen this or checked out this river you need to do that because the Filipino people are killing themselves with this river running into Subic Bay.You must point your fingers at yourselves first before pointing at others.  SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94

editors' picks

advertisement

popular

advertisement

videos