February 5, 2013
Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio (0920-9220817)
Interviewed at the sidelines of the 2013 Philippine Development Forum in Davao City, Aquino said the volunteers would not only guard the reef but also help in its rehabilitation and ensure that there will be no sea vessel that will run aground on it.“They are not just gonna compensate us in terms of paying the necessary fines, but they are also envisioning how to assist the rehabilitation of Tubbataha to include posting parang peace corps volunteers to the area to accelerate the rehabilitation of the reef,” the president said. [“Aquino: US may post ‘peace corps-like’volunteers to guard Tubbataha,”GMA News website]
We are appalled at a news report that the President of the Republic of the Philippines is even so much as entertaining the suggestion of US Ambassador Henry Thomas that the US government will deploy ‘Peace Corps-type’ volunteers to help guard and rehabilitate the Tubbataha Reef.
President Aquino should be the first to uphold our nation’s dignity as a sovereign nation fully capable of enforcing our own laws on our own territory without the assistance of foreigners. That he would entertain such a suggestion from a foreign ambassador, to the extent of divulging it to the media in a positive light, is a slap in the face of all Filipinos and demeans the sacrifices made daily by the Filipino men and women who have ably protected Tubbataha for years.
As for Ambassador Thomas, his suggestion is truly adding insult to injury. After the damage to Tubbataha caused by their warship due to the American crew’s disregard for our laws and law enforcers, he now has the temerity to propose that American volunteers assist in the enforcement of our own laws on our own territory! He should be reminded that the Philippines is no longer a direct colony of the US.
We call on the public to be vigilant and to ensure that our national leaders will not allow the shipwreck in Tubbataha to be exploited to further compromise our sovereignty in the enforcement of our laws and the protection of our patrimony.
Truly, this shipwreck in Tubbataha is exposing the abject subservience to the US government and US interests prevailing among the highest officials of our land. We call for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the abrogation of the Mutual Defense Treaty as the initial, necessary steps towards a truly independent foreign policy.
[A version of this statement was delivered by Rep Tinio as a privilege speech on the floor of the House of Representatives this afternoon.]