PLAYING FAVORITES

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Is the Aquino administration turning a blind eye on US environmental violations?

Malacañang has chosen to play favorites, condemning China for its brazen acts against the country’s environment, and yet are absolutely lenient when it comes to US ecological violations.

Is President Aquino not addressing the issue in fear that it will affect RP-US diplomatic relations, especially when much-needed military support has been emphasized after the previous Obama visit?

The Aquino administration’s sincerity in following up the case of the destruction of the Tubbataha reefs over a year ago by both Chinese vessels and US warships found in Philippine waters is put into question due to its lack of interest in pursuing the US while calling for China’s accountability in the incident.

The grounding of the USS Guardian in Tubbataha last 2013 caused the destruction of at least 2,345 square meters of the marine protected area, while Chinese fishing vessels hit the heritage site not long after.

The government is quick to condemn China for the damage it caused, stating that they are here to defy our national sovereignty and poach within Philippine waters.

Environmental groups raised concerns that other marine reserves and areas would not fare so well as the Tubbataha Reef if poaching activities continued.

Meanwhile, the government continues to neglect its obligation to also hold responsible the US whose presence in the Philippines is to guard its country’s interests.

In 2012, a US warship allegedly disposed toxic chemical wastes at Subic Bay, claiming as means of a cover-up that it disposed “waste water” which was already treated aboard the ship.

However, the secret dumping of toxic waste is an affront to Philippine sovereignty, as it showed their utter disregard for the environment and health of the Filipinos.

Importance of Tubbataha
The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park covers about 130,028 hectares, including the North and South Reefs. It is a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species, with the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles.

The site is an excellent example of a pristine coral reef with a 100-meter perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands.

In December 1993, UNESCO declared Tubbataha as a World Heritage Site. With 358 species of mostly hard corals, it is recognized as having one of the most remarkable coral reefs on the planet.

One millimeter of hard corals takes one year to grow, while one meter of hard corals to mature takes approximately 250 years.

According to CNN, Tubbataha is among the top eight dive sites in the world.

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