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The environmentalist grass-roots organization, Kalikasan, commented on the recent penalty payments over the destruction of a coral reef by a U.S. minesweeper:
Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said that the proposed P24 million fine for the Tubbataha reef damage caused by US military forces is too little and too limited an amount, belittling the value of the area’s rich marine wealth and the issue of territorial sovereignty.
“Twenty four million pesos is not enough to compensate for the damage done by the US to Tubbataha Reef, a national treasure. There is really no equivalent monetary compensation for the US Navy’s disrespect for Philippine authorities and their trampling of the country’s sovereignty,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
“Both the US and the Philippine governments want to reduce the Tubbataha incident to only an environmental violation that can be settled through mere monetary compensation. The proposal does not consider the longer-term losses to the marine environment nor the lingering presence of US military troops in Philippine lands and seas,” Bautista said.
Bautista also expressed disappointment at the Aquino administration’s failure to curb the increasing presence of US military troops in the country as well as the different environmental and social problems this has triggered. “Until now, the Aquino government has failed to seek accountability from the violations of the US Navy,” Bautista added.
“The Aquino administration must assert our sovereignty and stand for dignity as a nation by filing a formal protest to the US government and pursue a criminal case against the officers and crew of the USS Guardian. We should take custody of American intruders like what we did before to Chinese poachers and local fishermen who trespassed into the water of Tubbataha,” Bautista ended.