Subic activists protest US navy presence

Randy Datu
A group of environmental activists protest the presence of the US Navy in the country

PROTEST. A group of environmental activists protest the presence of the US Navy in the country. Photo by Randy Datu

SUBIC, Philippines – A group of environmental activists is coming from different parts of Central Luzon to Subic to protest the American presence in the country led by the US Navy.

The group, in a statement sent to Rappler on Friday, April 5, said that activists led by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) will stage protests actions in the Subic Freeport Zone to “oppose the on-going joint military exercises and call for the abrogation of the existing PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).”

Under the VFA, US troops are allowed entry and deployment in the Philippines. US warships are also allowed to make port calls and navigate in the country’s territorial water.

Environmental groups have decried the negative environmental impact caused by US troop movements and military exercises.

The Subic caravan protest aims to “catch the attention of the public and raise awareness regarding the hazards that military exercises and VFA are currently causing”, the group said.

Before departing for Subic, the activists held a protest action in front of Camp Aquinaldo where the ceremonial activity is being held to kick off the Balikatan military exercise.

The group denounced the current US-PH military exercises as they are reported to have brought environmental risks and human rights violations.

“We do not want a repeat of toxic dumping and ship grounding in our seas and coral reefs. We are calling for an immediate moratorium on entry of US warships particularly those which are nuclear armed like USS Cheyenne,” said Clemente Bautista Jr., National Coordinator of environmental group Kalikasan PNE.

Environmental violations related to US military forces in the Philippines include the grounding of the minesweeper USS Guardians in the World Heritage Site Tubbataha Reef and dumping of hazardous wastes in Subic Bay.

The USS Cheyenne, a nuclear attack submarine recently made a port call in Subic Bay last February 2013. Under the VFA, US forces has a policy of not confirming or denying if their warships and aircrafts are carrying nuclear weapons.

“The incidents of USS guardian grounding in Tubbataha and the toxic dumping of Glenn Defense are glaring proofs of the negative impacts of Visiting Forces Agreement to our environment,” Bautista said. –

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