Gov’t inaction blamed for Subic waste dumping

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07:39 AM February 16th, 2013

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By: Robert Gonzaga, February 16th, 2013 07:39 AM
Senator Loren Legarda, Climate Change Act of 2009

Sen. Loren Legarda. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—A Senate committee report concluded that a contractor of the United States Navy was liable for unauthorized dumping of untreated sewage in Philippine waters and scored the inaction of relevant environment protection agencies on the matter.

In a report dated Feb. 5, the Senate’s committee on foreign relations and committee on environment and natural resources said the contractor, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Philippines, had violated the country’s environmental and marine protection laws when it unloaded 200,000 liters of sewage it had collected from US Navy Ship USS Emory Land near Subic Bay in October last year.

The report, sponsored by Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the committee on foreign relations, said Glenn Defense had failed “to comply with the government’s permitting process” and was liable for dumping the untreated sewage in sea waters that had not been designated for that purpose by Philippine marine authorities.

The report also cited Glenn Defense’s failure to acquire “the necessary accreditation as a hazardous waste collector and transporter.”

But the document also said the Glenn Defense case highlighted the government’s failure to protect its marine environment despite an extensive body of laws.

“The case at hand is a classic illustration of how legislation remain good on paper, but are unable to achieve the policy goals defined in these laws,” the report said.

The report noted “no formal coordinating mechanism between and among the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), PCG (Philippine Coast Guard) and SBMA (Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority) with respect to the enforcement of marine protection laws, particularly in areas under the administrative supervision of SBMA,” the report noted.

“It is precisely in the absence of such coordinating mechanism that Glenn Defense was able to impose its own interpretation of our laws, rules and regulations, with neither the SBMA, DENR nor PCG intervening in ways that public interest will be upheld,” it said.

The report noted a circular issued by Maritime Industry Authority, or Marina, which even appeared to exempt Glenn Defense from acquiring permits.

“[So] the liability of the Philippine Ports Authority, and other port authorities such as the SBMA, which have the mandate to control, regulate and supervise pilotage, and the operation of port facilities and services, need to be looked at,” it said.

It also blamed the DENR for its “lack of effective environmental leadership.”

The Senate committees directed the SBMA, PCG and DENR to start administrative proceedings against Glenn Defense, suspend all permits issued to the firm and to determine if it should face criminal sanctions or be blacklisted.

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