CPP cites stark differences in handling Tubbataha incursions by US and Chinese vessels

Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines
April 11, 2013

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today pointed out the stark difference in the Aquino regime's handling of the successive incursions since January by the US military and Chinese fishermen at the Tubbataha Reef Wildlife Area. On the one hand, the Aquino government exhibited subordination to the US military, allowing their exoneration. On the other hand, it is vigorously pursuing the filing of charges against the crew of the Chinese vessel who are currently detained and awaiting inquest.

Last Monday, a Chinese fishing vessel ran aground at Tubbataha, damaging the coral bed. The Tubbataha reefs, declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations, is a protected wildlife area where large sea vessels are prohibited from entering. The grounding last Tuesday comes less than two weeks after the last piece of the US naval minesweeper USS Guardian was removed. The USS Guardian had illegally entered the area more than two months and run aground at the southern part of the reefs. Close to 3,000 square meters of coral were damaged.

"The detention by Philippine authorities of the 12-man crew of the Chinese fishing vessel is precisely what they refused to do to the crew of the USS Guardian when they ran aground in the same area."

"The prompt action against the Chinese crew is in stark contrast to how the reef authorities turned back when the fully armed US military crew of the USS Guardian took battle positions to block the approaching authorities and prevent their interdiction," pointed out the CPP. "The Aquino regime failed to protest and instead chose to remain silent and meek in the face of the high-handed show of force against the Philippine reef officials."

"Furthermore, Aquino did not even lift a finger when the US military immediately flew the crew of the USS Guardian to the US Pacific Command base in Japan, preventing the Philippine government from subjecting them to an investigation."

"In the face of the grounding of the Chinese fishing vessel, Philippine government officials are now making noise about how the Chinese fishermen will be made to pay for the damages on the reef. Just a month ago, the Aquino regime invoked a policy of silence on the issue of requiring the US government to pay fines for the damage caused on the reefs to instead settle for the 'compensation' fund being proposed by the US government."

"The US offer of compensation, which the Aquino regime has promptly accepted, is nothing but a bribe to prevent the Philippine government from requiring the US military to submit itself to Philippine jurisdiction."

"Since the Aquino regime failed to assert Philippine laws and authority over the USS Guardian crew, the US military did not even need to invoke the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which gives it the prerogative to refuse to submit its military personnel to Philippine legal proceedings," said the CPP.