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Monday, January 28, 2013

Anak Bayan release: Noynoy's Tubbataha statements indicate a whitewash is in the works - youth groups

Youth groups are assailing the statements made by President Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III over the weekend as 'indicative' of a whitewash of the U.S warship Guardian's grounding and destruction of a part of the protectedTubbataha Reef.

While claiming that the U.S Navy would be penalized, Aquino claimed that the apology issued by the U.S Navy showed 'sensitivity' on the part of the American military towards Filipinos. He added that since there were no scheduled military exercises in which the erring warship was involved, he saw no reason to involve the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

"Sensitivity? What sensitivity? Mas sensitive pa yung coral kumpara sa mga U.S troops (The corals are more sensitive than U.S troops). They have no respect for the Philippine national heritage, environment, and people" said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.

According to Terry Ridon, Kabataan Partylist national president, Aquino's statements were calculated to create the false image that 'the Tubbataha crash is an accident, an isolated lapse in judgement', and to remove the growing public awareness on the issue away from the question of the VFA.

"There was no accident. The statements of the Tubbataha management is clear: the Guardian entered Tubbataha Park despite repeated warnings from them, they were arrogantly told to just report the matter to the U.S Embassy, and even barred park rangers from surveying the damage to the corals" he said.

"In fact, Aquino's own statement should raise the question: what was the Guardian doing there if there were no war games during that time?" said the youth leader.

"This is precisely why the VFA should be the center of the discussion. U.S troops, and the virtual blanket immunity granted by the VFA upon them is the reason they act with such arrogance as telling our park rangers to 'just report to the U.S Embassy'" added Crisostomo.

Both leaders said that unless the VFA was scrapped, more and more incidents of environmental degradation involving U.S military forces would occur.

"As always, prevention is better than cure. It will us hundreds of years to regrow back destroyed corals. But it will take just a simple act of the government, in junking the VFA, to prevent the Tubbataha Incident from happening again" reiterated Crisostomo. 


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