Make US Navy accountable for Tubbataha reef incident, DOJ urged-A A +A
Monday, February 4, 2013
MANILA – A militant fisherfolk group asked Monday the Department of Justice to make accountable the officers and crewmen of the USS Guardian minesweeper that ran aground Tubbataha reef last January 17 for the environmental damage it caused the protected sanctuary.
In a letter-complaint to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) vice chair Salvador France asked that the grounding be properly investigated so that a legal action may be initiated by the government against the United States Navy officials and the 79 crewmembers involved in the "triple platinum destruction" of the reef.
The group also asked to determine whether Philippine authorities and concerned government agencies may also be held liable for criminal neglect for allowing officials and crew of the Guardian to go back to their home port in Sasebo, Japan, free from criminal liabilities.
It pointed out that the DOJ is constitutionally-bound, politically and morally obliged to undertake legal action against Rear Admiral Jeffrey Harley and Lt. Commander Mark Rice of the US Asia Pacific military command and the 79 crew members of US Guardian.
"Until now, the government has yet to file formal complaints against the US Navy and the 79 personnel of the US Navy minesweeper who led their war ship in ravaging the Unesco-declared world heritage site," Pamalakaya said.
The group said that there is enough evidence to enforce the arrest of the US Navy men for extremely violating the country's sovereignty and laws, "but nothing has been done to pursue their arrest and demand accountability from them."
They further claimed that even President Benigno Aquino III's pronouncements last week that his administration will make those responsible for the grounding liable, "his (Aquino) statement is merely good for public relations campaign. It has no meat or muscle at all because the culprits are free and no formal charges are filed against them."
"The reprehensible and extremely sorry situation in Tubbataha Reef merits DOJ endorsement and definite stand in favor of abrogating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty with the US and the urgent and unconditional pull out of all US troops, warships and aircraft from Philippine territory," the group further said. (JCV/Sunnex)