MANILA, Philippines—Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) on Friday called anew for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement as a US Navy warship ran aground in the world heritage site Tubbataha Reefs in Sulu Sea.
“What was its mission in Palawan? Is the US operating a base there? What was the approved joint activity that allowed the US to move around our waters? More importantly, what is the Philippine government going to do regarding this incident?” Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes said in a statement.
“The violations being committed by American warships in the country through the VFA are already disturbing and our officials should have the political will to decisively make them accountable,” he said.
“Just a couple of months ago, they (US Navy) were involved in the dumping of toxic wastes in Subic Bay. If the US troops and the VFA were left off the hook in that incident by local authorities and all the blame were pinned on the private contractor Glenn Defense Marine, the Tubbataha case points directly to the US Navy. They have no more excuses,” Reyes added.
He added that the US Navy must also be liable for the damages made to the coral reefs.
“This is already strike 2 for US troops. This kind of activity by US forces, being able to roam freely in our waters without respect for domestic laws, should end. The disrespect by the US towards the Tubbataha authorities should be looked into as well,” he added.
Meanwhile, military spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said the presence of the ship was “authorized.”
“The presence of the ship is authorized as it just made a port call in Subic and Puerto Princesa,” he told reporters.
He said the Naval Forces West has dispatched Patrol Gunboat 383 Thursday night and arrived at 10 a.m. Friday.
Reports said that it sighted a US civilian support vessel, MV-C Champion, which provides assistance to the USS Guardian.
The US has not so far sought assistance from the Philippine military, Burgos said.
The 68-meter minesweeper of the US Navy, the USS Guardian, ran aground the Tubbataha Reefs early Thursday in Sulu Sea.