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.
FILIPINO scientists are developing what could be the future of rice in Asia.
“Flood tolerant” rice varieties to solve global losses of the staple grain from seasonal floods are the new frontier, according to breeders in the region.The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in collaboration with the International Society for Plant Anaerobiosis (ISPA) is working to develop rice that can withstand flooding. Working on similar genes that allow certain aquatic plants to survive submergence, the team is looking to come up with rice plants that can thrive in all types of flooding conditions.Food losses caused by floods serve as motivator. “We have more people in this planet. We need to produce more food,” said Voesenek Laurentius, ISPA President.The Philippines is a key player in rice technology. The country already grows submergence-tolerant rice such as NSIC 194 or ‘Submarino’ which was observed to have high tolerance to effects of La Niña and typhoons, according to the Philippine Department of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, post-harvest losses remain a different story with its own set of challenges.In its latest food loss report, the Food and Agriculture Organization stated that airtight storage technology from the Philippines helped cut the country’s rice losses by 15 percent.GrainPro Philippines, Inc. in Subic Bay is a global leader in airtight storage solutions. The company has been very active in helping government agencies and non-profit advocacies to solve post-harvest losses in the country.”Pre-harvest and post-harvest losses are major problems among rice-developing nations in Asia.
Each requires its own unique set of solutions,” says Tom De Bruin, President of GrainPro Philippines. GrainPro is also working closely with IRRI and the University of Hohenheim to develop modern innovations to solve problems in post-harvest losses. Some of their solutions allow rice to be safely stored for up to three years without loss in quality.Recently, Thailand’s Rice Pledging Program collapsed, resulting in harvested rice to be flooded and waste away in local warehouses. The program cost the country billions. Some experts agree that the right post-harvest storage solution could have helped the already debt-riddled country.De Bruin hopes that the government will continue to provide much-needed support to encourage companies such as his to come up with long-term solutions to the problem. So far, support has been sparse at best in promoting technology that fights post-harvest losses in Asia. This in itself is a major obstacle for developers and innovators in the region.