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Why wasn’t Tubbataha taken up in meet with US congressional delegation? – Bayan

Posted on 30 January 2013 by admin

Press Statement

January 30, 2013

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today said that the Philippine government missed an opportunity to assert national interest when it failed to discuss the grounding of the USS Guardian in Tubbataha Reef with a visiting delegation from the US Congress.

“It’s mind-boggling. Instead of concretely advancing PH interests in the Tubbataha incident, the Philippine government settled for some vague expression of support by US the lawmakers for the arbitration process in the West Philippine Sea. It’s quite strange since the US lawmakers themselves said that their government does not take sides in the territorial dispute. So what did we actually get from that?” asked Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The PH government should have impressed upon the US congressional delegation that we are dead serious in seeking damage claims for Tubbataha. The PH government should have impressed upon the US congressional delegation that the initial attitude of the officers and crew of the USS Guardian was unacceptable,” he added.

US Representatives led by foreign affairs committee chair Ed Royce. Eliot Engel, Gregory Meeks, Vern Buchanan, Matthew James Salmon Thomas, Anthony Marino met with Philippine officials yesterday at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Bayan said that the US expressed support for arbitration as a diplomatic “consuelo” in exchange for securing expanded and permanent US military presence in the Philippines under the Visiting Forces  Agreement.

“The US remains the big winner here as it tries to get more troops, ships and equipment on PH territory. The US is pursuing a rebalancing scheme which will see 60% of their warships deployed in Asia. They are getting a lot of benefits from the VFA while we’re reaping environmental degradation,” Reyes said

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