18, 2013

NR # 3019

Solon reiterates call for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement
A lawmaker has reiterated his call for abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines to avoid future intrusion of American vessels in the country’s protected areas. Rep. Rafael Mariano, author House Resolution 3018, said the damage created by the grounding of USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef will have a strategic negative impact on fish production and livelihood of not less than 100,000 fisher-folks and fish workers in commercial fishing vessels in the West Palawan Sea and the Sulu-Celebes Sea and adjacent fishing waters in Visayas and Mindanao areas. Mariano said the Tubbataha Reef plays an important role in the promotion and production of biodiversity in the country. The network of corals of the Tubbataha Reef has helped fish generation and production in nearby areas that extend to major fishing grounds such as the Panay and Guimaras Islands, Negros Islands, Cebu and Bohol Islands and the rest of the Visayan Sea. “The government should adopt a measure to address the issue on the livelihood of the affected fisher-folks and the possible way on how to prevent similar incidents in the future,” Mariano said. It was reported that at least about 1, 000 square meters of corals in Tubbataha Reef Park have been severely damaged by the grounding of the USS Guardian last January 17, 2013. Mariano said it would take one year for a millimeter of mostly hard corals in the Tubbataha’s South section to go back to its sound condition and 250 years for a meter of coral to mature. According to marine experts, damage caused by the grounding of the USS Guardian on Tubbataha National Reef Park is bigger, more far-reaching and strategically fatal to the livelihood of Filipino fishermen and the marine environment directly linked to the protected reef park. (30) sb