Envi group to Trump: Pay PH $27M for Tubbataha Reef damage
An environmental group on Friday called on United States President-elect Donald Trump to pay for the damage caused by a US navy minesweeper on Tubbataha Reef back in 2013.
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said it is renewing its call now that the payment for the grounding of USS Guardian in the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park will be “Trump’s responsibility.”
Kalikasan PNE previously co-filed a Writ of Kalikasan petition on the incident. The Supreme Court in 2014 said that it had no jurisdiction over the case but noted that the US was liable for the damage.
The US government, under President Barack Obama, apologized for the incident but paid only $1.97 million in 2015.
Kalikasan PNE national coordinator Clemente Bautista said the amount only covers the fine and not the cost of damage on the “unparalleled biodiversity lost in the environmental disaster.”
“The $27 million estimated worth of unpaid damages inflicted by the US navy to the Philippines’ world heritage site Tubbataha Reef is now Trump’s responsibility and must be demanded by the Philippine government,” he said.
Bautista said the Philippines should not only demand for compensation but also oppose “unjust military policies that gave the environmental criminals in the US military immunity from our courts.”
He said “US militarism is inextricably linked to ecological disasters” and that President Rodrigo Duterte should just repeal the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US, which allow the presence of US troops in the country.
“During his first few months, Duterte promised to assert an independent foreign policy and to end US-PH military exercises,” he said. “The pronouncement remains an empty rhetoric to date as the VFA and EDCA remains firmly in place, and another round of Balikatan military exercises are already set to be held in April this year.”
Bautista also pointed out that the President-elect’s son Donald Trump Jr. once tweeted that “a $277-million boat is more important than a 200×50 section of reef that has already been run over.”
“If Trump-the-son’s arrogant disregard of our ecological treasure reflects his Trump-the-father-and-president’s attitude over the environment, then that’s all the more reason to hold the Trump government accountable right now,” Bautista said.
The group said it will continue to protest against US “if the Duterte administration will not take any visible steps to renew demands for compensation to Tubbataha.” RAM
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