Pamalakaya slams DND chief for begging superpowers to check China on West PHL

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Pamalakaya slams DND chief for begging superpowers to check China on West PHL 

Manila, Philippines- The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday dismissed as “patently pathetic, rated-A puppetry and blockbuster act of pauperism the call of Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin for superpowers like the United States to come in and intervene on the current conflict in West Philippine Sea to check the aggressive campaign of China in the disputed waters. 

In a press statement, Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz assailed Secretary Gazmin for endorsing a recipe for US military aggression and intervention, which, he said is a direct affront to sovereign rights of 97 million Filipinos. 

“Secretary Voltaire wants the big brother in Washington DC to come in like a wrecking ball in West Philippine Sea even if it means the complete surrender of Philippine sovereignty to to US. He is telling the international community that Philippine government will embrace US occupation of South China Sea at any given time,” the Pamalakaya media officer noted. 

“Secretary Gazmin’s statement is not only provocative, but also nefarious and grossly irresponsible that puts the Philippine government as the no.1 ally of the world’s no.1 threat to world peace, which is the US government,” added Corpuz. 

At the 23rd anniversary of the Army’s Special Operations Command, Secretary Gazmin said since China is projecting itself as a superpower, the need for big ally against the bully is necessary to check Beijing’s aggressiveness in the disputed group of islands, in reference to the new Chinese fishing rule recently passed by Hainan province. 

Secretary Gazmin said the Philippines will defy the new Chinese fishing rules by having te Philippine Navy escort Filipino fishing boats as they fish in the disputed waters. 

Last week, Pamalakaya wrote outgoing Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing demanding the urgent and unconditional recall of the Chinese fishing rule, and pursue bilateral and multilateral talks with claimant nations in South China Sea. 

The group said nation claimants in South China Sea should instead be wary of the current campaign of US to takeover the West Philippine Sea to strengthen its military position in East Asia and the Pacific and the desire of Washington DC to control the navigation and oil and gas resources in South China Sea. 

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya pressed the Philippine government to extradite officials and 79 other crew of USS Guardian which ran aground in Tubbataha Reef on January 17, 2013 or exactly one-year since the environmental disaster happened in the UNESCO declared heritage park. 

The group argued that the Office of the President, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) to pursue the return of military officials and crew members of the American minesweeper to the country and compel these US military personnel to response to the writ of Kalikasan filed by Pamalakaya, the umbrella alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and other personalities and institutions. 

‘President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima are hereby ordered by the 97 million Filipinos to pursue the extradition of US military officials and crew members of USS Guardian so they could face pending cases filed against them in connection with the onslaught of Tubbataha Reef park,” the Pamalakaya official said. 

In particular, France said the Aquino administration should demand the return of  USS Guardian officers Lt. Commander Mark Rice and Lt. Daniel Tyler and the 79 crews of the American minesweeper. 

On Feb. 5, 2013,   France of Pamalakaya and Anakpawis partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap led their respective organizations in filing a letter complaint demanding DoJ to file criminal and appropriate charges against officials and other 79 crew members of USS Guardian which hit portions of Tubbataha Reef Park on January 17, 2013. 

In their letter to Secretary de Lima, leaders of Pamalakaya and Anakpawis partylist insisted that the Philippine government should settle the score with the US government in connection with the grounding of American minesweeper that destroyed over 4,000 square meters of coral reefs.

 They said  Secretary de Lima should decisively take legal action against US navy officials and the 79 crew personnel of USS Guardian—an American navy minesweeper that ran aground off Tubbataha Natural Park near Sulu and West Palawan Sea. 

In their letter of appeal and complaint, the groups strongly persuaded Secretary de Lima to file charges, recommend the immediate and unconditional pullout of US troops, warships and aircraft inside the Philippine territory to avoid repeat of Tubbataha disaster and prevent Washington from perenially violating the country’s sovereignty and national patrimony.

 In the same vein, the groups strongly recommended to DoJ to endorse the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty and the urgent pull out of all US troops, warships and aircraft in the Philippine territory to prevent a repeat of an environmental disaster similar to the January 17, 2013 Tubbataha tragedy.

Both groups insisted the US navy officials and the 79 crew of USS Guardian are liable for violating Republic Act No. 10067 that declared Tubbataha a protected area, and that individuals who violated the law may be punished with up to six years imprisonment and may be slapped with fines of up to P 300,000. 

“But more than the violation of reef park law, the US rapists of Tubbataha Reef violated in flagrant and red carpet manner the sovereign rights and territorial integrity of a nation with 97 million people. This wholesale massacre of Filipino sovereign rights will be cited and argued in the case against the extrajudicial killers of the UNESCO declared heritage site,” they said. 

 The January 17 environmental tragedy has taken its toll on the 130,028 hectare corals of the protected site.  The 1,300 ton, 68 meter ship is taking its toll on Tubbataha Reef in destructive fashion.

 The initial assessment as to the extent of the damage revealed that about 4,000 square meters of corals in Tubbataha Reef park have been severely damaged is just the a tip of the iceberg.  Some quarters said the damage could be more than what was projected.

 “The damage caused by the grounding of USS Guardian on Tubbataha  Natural Reef Park is bigger, far more reaching and strategically fatal to the livelihood of Filipino fishermen and to the fishing environment directly link to the protected reef park. It will take 1 year for a millimeter of mostly hard corals in Tubbataha’s South Section to go back to its sound condition and it will take 250 years for a meter of coral to mature,” the groups said.

 According to Pamalakaya and Anakpawis partylist,Tubbataha Reef is a home to 360 species of corals or about half of all coral species in the world and it is also the breeding ground of 1,500 fish species in the country out of the 2,400 total fish species found across the archipelago. 

 The Tubbataha Reef Park also plays an important role in maintaining the average annual production of 800,000 metric tons of fish in the West Palawan Sea and Sulu-Celebes Sea, two of the country’s major fishing grounds which are connected with Tubbataha. 

 The productive network of corals of Tubbataha had helped fish generation and production in nearby fishing areas that extend to major fishing grounds such as Panay and Guimaras islands, Negros island, Cebu and Bohol Islands and the rest of Visayan Sea.

 The damage created by the USS grounding on Tubbataha will have a strategic negative impact on fish production  and livelihood of not less than 100,000 fisherfolk and fish workers in commercial fishing vessels in West Palawan Sea and Sulu-Celebes Sea and adjacent fishing waters in the Visayas and Mindanao.

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