Environmental protection orders sought amid US military drills in PHBy Tetch Torres-Tupas
MANILA, Philippines—Environmentalist, church leaders and militant groups on Tuesday called on the Supreme Court to issue a series of temporary environmental protection orders (TEPOs) following the on-going US military exercises and port calls of US warships in the Philippines.
“The growing rotational presence in the country of these US troops renders our marine protected areas highly vulnerable to destruction and degradation given the influx of military personnel, weaponry and naval and ground vessels. The unlimited access being given to these warships, without any clear environmental guidelines, reveals the fatal problems of the Visiting Forces Agreement,” Bayan spokesperson Renato Reyes said.
The recent motion is part of an earlier petition filed for the Writ of Kalikasan regarding the grounding of USS Guardian in the Tubbataha reefs.
In their recent motion, they urge the high court to stop all port calls and military exercises in the absence of clear environmental guidelines, duties and liability schemes for breaches of duties.
They also urge the high court to order the US government to deposit to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) Trust Fund the amount of P58,375,080 or $1,459,377.00 as reasonable guarantee towards full reparations of the park.
Petitioners include Bishop Pedro D. Arigo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Bishop Deogracias S.Iniguez, Jr., Bishop-Emeritus Of Caloocan, Frances Q. Quimpo, Clemente G. Bautista, Jr. of Kalikasan-Pne, Maria Carolina P. Araullo and Renato M. Reyes Jr. of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares of Bayan Muna, Roland G. Simbulan, Ph.D., Junk VFA Movement, , Teresita R. Perez, Ph.D., Rep. Raymond V. Palatino, Kabataan Party-List, Peter SJ. Gonzales of Pamalakaya, Giovanni A. Tapang, Ph.D., Agham, Elmer C. Labog, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Joan May E. Salvador, Gabriela, diver Jose Enrique A. Africa, Theresa A. Concepcion, Mary Joan A. Guan, Nestor T. Baguinon, Ph.D., and public interest lawyer Edsel F. Tupaz.
Named respondents in the petition are Scott H. Swift, commander of the US 7th Fleet; Mark A. Rice, commanding officer of the USS Guardian; President Benigno S. Aquino III for being the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, Environment Secretary Ramon Jesus P. Paje, Vice Admiral Jose Luis M. Alano, Philippine Navy Flag Officer In Command, Armed Forces Of The Philippines, Admiral Rodolfo D. Isorena, Commandant, Philippine Coast karma Guard, Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, Philippine Coast Guard Palawan, Major Gen. Virgilio O. Domingo, Commandant Of Armed Forces Of The Philippines Command, Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling, Us Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, And Balikatan 2013 Exercise Co-Director.