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National Interest is First and Second to None

February 6, 2013

Sponsorship Speech
National Interest is First and Second to None
Alleged Dumping of Wastes in Philippine Waters
Senate Session Hall
February 06, 2013

Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues:

I have the honor to report back on the results of the joint investigation conducted by the Committees on Foreign Relations and Environment and Natural Resources on the alleged dumping of wastes in seawaters by MT Glenn Guardian, a vessel owned by Glenn Defense Marine Asia Pte Ltd.

There were various news reports in October 2012 on the nature and volume of wastes, as well as the manner by which Glenn Defense had allegedly disposed the sewage wastes and bilge water taken from visiting US ships under the VFA.

SENATE INQUIRY

Pursuant to the reports, the following resolutions were filed in the Senate: 1) SRN 894 filed by this representation; 2)SRN 895 filed by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago;andSRN 896 filed by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Martin Pimentel III.

COMMITTEE REPORT

Mr. President, the investigation conducted by our Committees was extensive and produced wide ranging inputs from various stakeholders. Nearly three months after we started the investigation, we now have a 134-page report, the highlights of which I will outline today.

Our investigation focused on the following issues:
1. Glenn Defense’s claim of coverage under the VFA;
2. The factual information and circumstances on the alleged waste dumping by Glenn Defense Marine Asia Philippines, Inc. in the waters of Subic or in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone;
3. Legislations, rules and regulations pertinent to the aforementioned allegations;
4. Nature, type, and volume of wastes allegedly dumped into the seawaters, if any;
5. Attendant issues and circumstances on the alleged illegal dumping of wastes by Glenn Defense such as:
a. Area where the dumping was done;
b. Compliance issues with respect to Annex IV of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL);
c. Compliance issues with respect to the provisions of RA 6969;
d. Compliance issues with respect to existing laws, rules and regulations.
6. Degree/extent of waste dumping in seawaters;
7. Relevant factors or circumstances;
8. Actions and findings of government agencies; and
9. Recommendations.

Findings

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, the following are our findings:

1. GLENN DEFENSE IS NOT COVERED BY THE VFA
Glenn Defense Marine Asia Philippine, Inc., which I shall refer to as Glenn Defense henceforth, is a Philippine-registered company providing husbanding and related services to visiting US ships. It is not operating vessels for the United States armed forces and its employees are not part of the United States personnel, as defined in the VFA. These were false claims made by Glenn Defense to escape coverage from Philippine laws and regulations. It operates under a service agreement with Glenn Defense Marine (Asia) Pte Ltd, a private corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of Singapore. Glenn Defense, therefore, can be likened to a sub-contractor that is liable for any omission or violation it may have committed in the course of providing contracted services to US Navy ships.

2. GLENN DEFENSE FAILED TO COMPLY WITH THE REGULATORY AND PERMITTING REQUIREMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT WHEN IT DUMPED AROUND 200,000 LITERS OF SEWAGE WASTE IN SEAWATERS ON OCTOBER 15, 2012.

The investigation established that Glenn Defense failed to acquire the necessary permits and authorization from pertinent agencies of the government prior to dumping untreated sewage wastes into the sea. The PCG, in its report to the Senate, declared that “there is no record to show that subject vessel or the owner/operator of Glenn Defense Marine (Asia) Philippines Incorporated had forwarded any request for dumping or discharging of sewage waste” to the PCG.

3. GLENN DEFENSE, BY PRACTICE, HAS BEEN DUMPING SEWAGE WASTE INTO THE SEAWATERS OVER THE YEARS WITHOUT PERMITS FROM THE GOVERNMENT
Glenn Defense, during a recorded meeting on December 3, 2012, confirmed that by practice, the company has been disposing the sewage wastes collected from US Navy ships into seawaters.
A certification from Subic Water showed that from October 15 to November 19, 2012, more than 4 million liters of sewage were collected from just one US ship. Had it not been for the investigation, these wastes would have probably found its way again into our seawaters.

A total of 357 US vessels visited the Philippines from 2007 to October 2012, and 56% or 191 ships were serviced by Glenn Defense.
In 2011, there were only 3 instances wherein Glenn Defense had caused the collection, treatment and disposal of sewage and hazardous wastes through the facilities of DENR-accredited land-based facilities. This gives an alarming picture as to the millions of untreated sewage wastes that may have been dumped in seawaters by Glenn Marine over time.

4. THE SEWAGE WASTES DUMPED BY GLENN GUARDIAN ON OCTOBER 15, 2012 IN SEAWATERS WERE FOUND TO BE IN EXCESS OF PERMITTED EFFLUENT STANDARDS IN VIOLATION OF DENR STANDARDS. THE LABORATORY RESULTS ALSO INDICATED THE PRESENCE OF ALARMING LEVELS OF OIL AND GREASE — WASTES THAT ARE CONSIDERED HAZARDOUS UNDER RA 6969.

Oil and grease, which are considered hazardous wastes under RA 6969 and its implementing rules and regulations, have been detected at alarming levels in the samples collected from M/T Glenn Marine and Glenn Enterprise on October 15, exceeding the DENR DAO permissible level of 5mg per liter by more than 198,000% at 9,953 mg per liter.

5. GLENN DEFENSE IS NOT AN ACCREDITED SEWAGE WASTE COLLECTOR OR COLLECTOR OF OTHER RELATED HARMFUL SUBSTANCES IN VIOLATION OF PCG MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR 03-2005

SBMA and DENR submitted reports to the Senate, indicating that apart from sewage wastes, Glenn Defense also collected hazardous wastes from US ships that visited in the past. As a collector of waste and hazardous waste, Glenn Defense is required to secure accreditation from pertinent agencies of the government before it can discharge such services. Since it was incorporated in 2007, Glenn Defense was able to secure only two (2)term-specific accreditations from the Philippine Coast Guard and none from the DENR and SBMA. Glenn Defense, after September 24, 2011, did not have a valid accreditation to undertake sewage waste and oily waste collection and collection of other related harmful substances.

6. GLENN DEFENSE DID NOT DUMP THE SEWAGE WASTES IN THE DULY-DESIGNATED DUMPING AREAS IDENTIFIED IN PCG PER MC 01-2006
The PCG, in its report to the Senate, concluded that Glenn Defense dumped the sewage wastes in an area outside of the designated dumping areas in violation of PCG MC -1-2006.This finding disputes the earlier report of the SBMA that indicated that “the destination of M/T Glenn Defense for the purpose of discharge is compliant with the PCG Standard.”

The basis of PCG’s conclusion is detailed in the report, using the guidelines issued by MARPOL.

7. PCG DEBUNKS THE CLAIM OF GLENN DEFENSE THAT MT GLENN GUARDIAN HAD DUMPED THE SEWAGE
WASTES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PCG AND MARPOL GUIDELINES
Using Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) and MARPOL guidelines, PCG concluded that it should have taken at least 6.6 days, not 9 hours and 50 minutes based on the ship log, for Glenn Guardian, at a speed of 4 knots, to have completed the sewage dumping process at sea in accordance with MARPOL guidelines. This estimate does not even include the steaming time to the discharge area and back to the port.
Even at a speed of 12 knots, it would have taken at least 2.2 days for Glenn Guardian just to discharge the sewage waste.

8. GLENN DEFENSE SECURED FROM MARINA ONLY TWO EXEMPTION PERMITS IN 2011 EVEN AS MARINA REGULATIONS, EFFECTIVE AT THAT TIME, REQUIRED SUCH PERMITS AS A PRE-REQUISITE FOR THE TEMPORARY OPERATION OF FOREIGN VESSELS IN THE PHILIPPINES.

While only two Exemption Certificates were issued to Glenn Defense, it must be noted that there were a total of 11 ship visits handled by Glenn Defense beginning August to December 2011.
In November 2011, MARINA issued a revised circular that exempts entities such as Glenn Defense from regulatory requirements governing the temporary utilization of foreign-registered ships within the national territory. Glenn Defense was made to enjoy this privilege even absent the requisite “formal implementing arrangement” required under the circular, thereby resulting in millions of pesos in revenues lost.

This action on the part of MARINA deserves scrutiny considering that this action contravenes the very policies that RA 9295, the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004, sought to promote, including that of ensuring the continued viability of domestic shipping operations and the provision of necessary assistance and incentives for the continued growth of the Philippine domestic merchant marine fleet.

9. THE VFACOM MANDATE OF “ENSURING RESPECT FOR PHILIPPINE LAWS, STATE POLICIES, AND STRICT COMPLIANCE WITH THE RULES AND REGULATIONS PROMULGATED BY THE CONCERNED DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES” UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 199 NEEDS TO BE STRONGLY ENFORCED.

The issue at hand highlights the need for the VFACOM to ensure that pertinent laws and regulations of the Philippines are respected and observed by all parties directly participating, incidental to, or merely providing contracted services to transport, haul, and treat sewage and hazardous wastes of US ships participating in VFA exercises. This is only possible if VFACOM pro-actively pursues its coordinative functions under E.O. 199.

10.THE DENR DID NOT CARRY OUT ITS MANDATED FUNCTIONS IN RELATION TO MARINE POLLUTION CONTROL.
Although the DENR is mandated to serve as the primary government agency responsible for the implementation of the country’s environmental laws, it has shirked in its responsibilities insofar as “coordinating and cooperating with the PCG in the enforcement of the country’s maritime laws.” It may also be noted that the DENR is tasked, under the country’s Clean Water Act, to review and update the country’s effluent standards that need to be observed by pertinent government agencies in the enforcement of the country’s maritime laws. Those guidelines have not been revised since 1990. In the instant case, DENR failed to take a pro-active role in addressing complaints of maritime pollution control even after the VFACOM allegedly stopped it from further pursuing its investigation.
There are at least 25 laws and implementing rules and regulations on marine pollution control that need to be reviewed and harmonized.

11.WHILE CONFLICTING INTERESTS ARE EVIDENT IN THE ISSUES AT HAND, IT IS INDISPUTABLE THAT GLENN DEFENSE HAS VIOLATED PHILIPPINE LAWS
While it may have been so that competing business interests may have motivated certain quarters to complain about the violations being committed by Glenn Defense, the fact remains that violations were committed by Glenn Defense.

It may be noted that as early as March 2007, a complaint had already been lodged by the Lighterage Association with the MARINA on the alleged failure of Glenn Defense to secure the necessary permits from that agency. Notwithstanding this, Glenn Defense has done very little to comply with all the regulatory requirements of the government, while government agencies have also failed to enforce its regulations.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In view of the foregoing, the following recommendations are hereby respectfully submitted:
1. For the SBMA, PCG, and DENR to initiate administrative proceedings against Glenn Defense for its failure to comply with the country’s environmental and marine protection laws and regulations and to impose the necessary penalties as warranted;

2. For the SBMA, PCG, DENR to suspend all permits issued to Glenn Defense until such time that the administrative proceedings shall have been completed and appropriate sanctions shall have been meted out;

3. For the DENR, in coordination with the PCG and DOJ, to conduct further investigation to determine if the filing of criminal / civil cases against Glenn Defense, and its blacklisting, is warranted. The findings in this report shall be used as an input to the investigation;

4. For the DENR, in coordination with the PCG and DOJ, to conduct a full review and investigation to identify other individuals or entities that may have violated the country’s marine protection laws, particularly with respect to the collection, hauling, treatment, and dumping of hazardous and sewage wastes from ships and to initiate the appropriate administrative cases, and if warranted, civil or criminal cases, against these violators. In view of this, the past and present operations of other entities providing marine husbanding and logistical services shall likewise be reviewed to determine if these entities have been compliant in the discharge of the services;

5. For the Office of the President to review the coordinative mechanisms of the VFACOM with the end-view of ensuring that the country’s laws, rules and regulations are faithfully complied with in the implementation of activities under the VFA;

6. For MARINA to review its decision to exempt Glenn Defense from the government’s permitting requirements covering the temporary use of foreign ships in Philippine territory on what is now established as a misplaced assumption on the part of Glenn Defense that it is covered and entitled to the privileges accorded under the VFA. This review is also recommended given the fact that item 15 of MARINA Memorandum Circular 2011-04 provides that such exemption shall be covered by an implementing arrangement between MARINA and the appropriate Government agency, which up to this date, is absent;

7. For MARINA to suspend the implementation of item 15 of its Memorandum Circular 2011-04 until such time that appropriate implementing guidelines and arrangements between MARINA and appropriate agencies, including the DENR and PCG, are in place;

8. For the Department of Transportation and Communication, as the agency exercising administrative control over MARINA, to determine possible culpabilities on the part of its officers and staff for failing to enforce MARINA regulations on Glenn Defense, except on two occasions in 2011 wherein its permitting requirements were imposed;

9. For MARINA to review the extent of permitting violations by Glenn Defense prior to the adoption of MARINA Memorandum Circular 2011-04 and to impose the necessary penalties for such violations;

10. For the DENR, jointly with the PCG, to convene a Task Force, with representatives from the civil society, that will pursue the harmonization of policies, rules, and regulations governing maritime protection;

11. For the DENR and PCG to submit to the Philippine Senate proposals to strengthen the country’s marine protection laws;

12. For the Office of the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs, as Chair and Vice-Chair respectively of the VFACOM, respectively, to immediately convene an inter-agency committee that will formulate the implementing rules and regulations that will provide clear guidelines on the protection and the preservation of the environment, among others, toward ensuring respect for Philippine laws in the implementation of the VFA;

13. For the government, through the DENR, PCG, MARINA, PPA, SBMA, and other Port Authorities to develop appropriate protocols for the immediate coordinated response to water-related incidents, including incidents of waste dumping at sea;

14. For Congress to undertake a review of legislations related to marine pollution control and initiate amendments, as necessary, with the view to strengthening its enforcement provisions, reconciling and harmonizing their provisions, and imposing stiffer penalties in a way that is commensurate to the damage inflicted upon the environment and marine life by violators; and

15. For Congress to consider legislating measures and stiffer penalties that will apply to violations in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

CONCLUSION

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, this incident and the unfortunate grounding of a US minesweeper in Tubbataha Reef are two different incidents, grounded on the same issue – the need for better coordinative and implementing arrangements to ensure “respect for Philippine laws, state policies…and strict compliance with rules and regulations” by our treaty partner and all entities performing services outside of the Visiting Forces Agreement, but related to its implementation.[1]

There is something terribly wrong, when a private commercial entity, instead of rectifying its omissions and violation of laws, claim that a Senate investigation results to waste of government time and resources. The findings in this report speak for itself.

Our government agencies need to understand that in any Agreement or Treaty, national interest is first and second to none.

Mr. President, I hereby submit this report in the hope that it will be adopted as a collective act and expression of this Chamber’s commitment to preserve and promote the inviolability of our laws and policies in the course of our co-existence and cooperation with other countries.

Thank you, Mr. President.