Apr 072013
 

1986

JUNE

US Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General Inspections completes a review of hazardous waste management by the US military.  Their investigation reveals serious disposal problems in the Philippines.  The report is classified.
 

JULY-AUGUST

Prof. Helen Mendoza of the Nuclear Free Philippines Coalition raises the issue of environmental impact of military bases during Constitutional Convention discussions.

 

1990

MAY

Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, a US-based Filipino engineer/chemist presents a paper on the implications of environmental destruction by the bases in the Philippines at the Crossroads International Conference in Manila.  He reveals the findings of the 1986 US Dept. of Defense Inspector General’s Report.

 

JUNE

Los Angeles Times article by journalist John Broder quotes Principal Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense David Berteau as stating that Subic is a toxic “horror story” and admitting that the US military “poured tons of toxic chemicals into Subic Bay.”

 

1991

 

SEPTEMBER

  • Philippine Senate rejects new bases treaty.
  • US Air Force completes an environmental review of Clark but does not give a copy to the Philippine government.

 

NOVEMBER

US completes withdrawal from Clark Air Base. Documents on environmental conditions are not given to the Philippine government.

 

1992

JANUARY

A US General Accounting Office (GAO) report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the US Congress states that Air Force and Navy officials had identified contaminated sites with “significant environmental damage” and acknowledge that the cost of clean-up “could approach Superfund proportions.”  The issue of liability is considered “moot” with the Philippine Senate’s rejection of the bases treaty.

 

JUNE-JULY

Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, funded by the United Nations Development Program, leads a team of Filipino scientists and students from the University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Chemistry in a preliminary environmental investigation of the bases.  Results are documented in the documentary film, “Toxic Sunset,” a project of Mr. Benjamin Pimentel,Jr.

 

OCTOBER

US Navy completes a report identifying sites at Subic that require investigation and potential clean-up; the report is not given to the Philippine government.

 

NOVEMBER

  • The US vacates Subic Naval Base.  Documents on the environmental conditions are not turned over to the Philippine government.
  • San Francisco Examiner publishes lengthy articles by Benjamin Pimentel and Louella Lasola exposing the problems of unexploded ordnance, leaking underground storage tanks and fuel pipelines, and hazardous waste at landfills around US bases in the Philippines.  The Christian Science Monitor also reports of toxic wastes being left behind as the US military withdraws.

 

1993

MAY

World Health Organization (WHO) completes a mission report of its environmental risk assessment and investigation program at Subic Bay, identifying 15 high priority areas, 9 medium priority areas, and 8 low priority areas.
 

JUNE

Journalists Benjamin Pimentel and Louella Lasola release “Toxic Sunset,” a 28 minute video documentary sponsored by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.  The video, based on their investigations and the 1992  studies by Filipino scientists wins several awards at international film festivals.
 

AUGUST

Due to pressure from Philippine and US NGOs, US Department of Defense releases the September 1991 and October 1992 environmental reports on Clark and Subic.
 

SEPTEMBER

Proposal by US Senators Daniel Inouye and Richard Lugar to create a joint US-Philippine task force to investigate the extent of the contamination and appropriate clean-up actions at former US bases. 
 

NOVEMBER

CNN airs a one-hour documentary “CNN Presents: A Military Mess” on the environmental legacy of the cold war.  It includes a 10-minute segment on the toxic legacy in the Philippines.
 

1994

APRIL

Philippine Desk Officer John Bradshaw of US State Department, in a letter to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, offers technical assistance to the Philippine Government if the Philippine government requests it.
 

JUNE-JULY

  • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee sends two delegations organized by Ms. Polly Parks from the US to the Philippines as part of the “Positive Legacy” tour. The first delegation interviews former base workers and shares experiences with NGOs and People’s Organizations.  The second delegation conducts technical workshops and demonstrated sampling equipment.
  • School children in Germantown, Pennsylvania, send a letter to Pres. Clinton expressing concern over toxic contamination at bases at home and in the Philippines.

     

AUGUST

  • Soil scientist Prof. Paul Bloom of the University of Minnesota, geologist Alex Carlos, chemical engineer Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, and environmental health physician Dr. Ted Schettler (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston) release an environmental and health impact report on contaminated sites at former bases in the Philippines, based on available reports, site visits and interviews. 
  • Church ministers attending the 11th Conference of the Pacific Islander and Asian-American Ministries in the United States pass a resolution on US obligation to clean-up toxic wastes at former bases in the Philippines.
     

SEPTEMBER

US Working Group for Philippine Bases Clean-up (USWG) is formed in Washington, DC to coordinate a US campaign and provide support to the People’s Task Force.
 

NOVEMBER

  • USWG members Drs. Jorge Emmanuel and Ted Schettler testify before Philippine House and Senate committees which pass minute resolutions calling on then President Fidel Ramos to discuss base clean-up issue with Pres. Bill Clinton during Clinton’s state visit to the Philippines.
  • Pres. Clinton visits the Philippines.  At a joint press conference at Malacanang Palace, Clinton denies any environmental problems but promises to find “the facts now, and when we find them, deal then with the facts as they are.”
     

1995

JANUARY

  • Philippine Department of Health releases result of 32 well samples taken inside and adjacent to Clark, 5 of which tested positive for oil and grease.
  • Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jaime Tan writes to the  US Center for Disease Control requesting help to protect residents from contaminated wells at Clark.
     

JULY

1,800 delegates of the 20th General Synod of the United Church of Christ, meeting in Oakland, California, pass a resolution on the US obligation to clean up toxic wastes at former military bases in the Philippines.  The resolution asks the President of the United Church of Christ to communicate the resolution to the US government.
 

AUGUST

US State Department gives clearance to the US Centers for Disease Control to respond to Sec. Jaime Tan’s request for assistance but only if the Philippines pays for all of US CDC’s travel expenses and consulting fees. The new Secretary of Health does not pursue the request for help.
 

OCTOBER-NOVEMBER

People’s Task Force representatives Myrla Baldonado and Merci Ferrer conduct a speaking tour across the US on the toxics issue at former US bases in the Philippines.  They meet with Panamanian NGO representatives in San Francisco and sign a joint statement calling on the US to commit to clean-up US bases in both Panama and the Philippines.
 

1996

NOVEMBER

  • Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) releases result of Woodward Clyde Environmental Baseline Survey.  Based on limited sampling, the study finds different levels of contamination in many areas and declares that there is no “widespread severe contamination” at Subic.  A study by a US-based environmental consulting firm would later find that the limited test results point to the opposite conclusion.
  • Philippine NGOs host the “FIRST INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON US MILITARY TOXICS AND BASES CLEAN-UP” in Manila with delegates from the US, Japan, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Panama, and the Philippines during which they stage an international action at the US Embassy. US Admiral (ret.) Eugene Carroll and Rep. Wigberto Tanada give keynote addresses. Delegates from different countries affected by US bases toxic contamination resolve to work together.
  • US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, says in a meeting with Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon, Jr. that the U.S. is ready to assist the Philippines in the clean-up of former American military facilities PROVIDED  that no legal action be taken against the US government.  Later, the US State Department denies making such promises.
     

1997

MARCH

US Working Group member Don Goertzen brings purge-and-trap equipment to Ateneo University; equipment donation by the State of Minnesota was arranged by Prof. Paul Bloom to enhance capabilities for testing volatile organic compounds.

 

JULY-AUGUST

USWG member Saul Bloom of Arc Ecology, San Francisco participates in forums and press conferences organized by the People’s Task Force and a meeting with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority with Bishop Yniguez of Zambales in attendance.

 

SEPTEMBER

  • Clark Development Corporation releases a summary of Weston International Environmental Baseline Study at Clark that identified 13 sites with serious contamination. It recommended that 75% of the sites be further investigated for groundwater contamination.
  • Local government officials, NGOs, POs, and citizens of Pampanga form the Metro-Clark People’s Task Force, an arm of the Manila-based People’s Task Force for Bases Clean-up.
     

OCTOBER

Due to public pressure arising from contamination at Clark, the US Embassy in Manila releases a box of documents about Clark in a highly-publicized move.  The documents are found to be of limited value.
 

NOVEMBER

  • Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Siazon raises the issue of Clark contamination with US State Secretary Madelaine Albright during the APEC meeting in Vancouver, Canada.  An official letter is sent to Sec. Albright specifically requesting technical assistance in confirming the Woodward-Clyde and Weston studies and in establishing a joint US-RP task force to assess contamination and formulate plans for remedial action.
  • People’s Task Force for Bases Clean-up organizes “Polluters Must Pay” demonstration in front of the US Embassy and Department of Foreign Affairs.
     

DECEMBER

US Working Group member Saul Bloom testifies before the Philippine House Committee on Ecology.
 

1998

APRIL

  • After a state visit to the White House, Philippine President Fidel Ramos announces the formation of a US-RP joint bilateral task force to clean up the bases.  Siazon, in a letter to Rep. Tanada, claims US agrees to the formation of the joint task force.
  • US Secretary Albright finally responds to the November, 1997 letter of Philippine Sec. Siazon.  The letter is unresponsive: it does not even mention the problem of contamination in the former bases or the US-RP joint bilateral task force.
     

JUNE

US Ecumenical Network on the Philippines sends a letter to Sec. Albright demanding US responsibility.  Letter is signed by 28 representatives of US faith-based groups.
 

JULY

  • Release of Albright’s letter to the media sparks angry protests at the US Embassy sponsored by the People’s Task Force.
  • USWG writes a letter to Sec. Albright calling on the US to establish a bilateral task force for cleanup and to ensure transparency and the involvement of NGOs-POs.
     

AUGUST

  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources Cerilles confirms that toxic and hazardous wastes from the US military have been found “in significant quantity” at Clark and Subic.  He formally requests Sec. Siazon to convey to the US a request for assistance in a clean-up.
  • USWG member Prof. Paul Bloom of the University of Minnesota participates in press conferences, roundtable discussions, and tours of contaminate sites in the Philippines with Senator Loren Legarda-Leviste.
     

SEPTEMBER

  • Department of Foreign Affairs finalizes a “Clean-up Action Plan” to dispose of toxic waste and mitigate contamination.
  • 42 Northern California residents send a letter to Sec. Albright calling on the US to remove the threat to health and environment at former bases in the Philippines.

     

OCTOBER

About two dozen hazardous waste barrels believed to contain solvents, mixed oils, tars, adhesives, and aqueous film forming foam are discovered in the basement of a home after leaks and spread of chemical vapors causes nausea and other illnesses in the area.  Philippine government officials take custody of the barrels which are later found dumped in an uncontrolled landfill.
 

NOVEMBER

  • Dr. Rosalie Bertell of the Canada-based International Institute of Concern for Public Health visits the Philippines and announces the results of the health survey at Clark.
  • 35 Michigan residents send a letter to Sec. Albright calling on the US to remove the threat to health and environment at former bases in the Philippines.
     

DECEMBER

The New York Times publishes an editorial on Christmas Day which cites the toxic chemicals and asbestos dumped in unsecured landfills in the Philippines by the US military and widespread diseases among residents as examples of problems left by the US military upon withdrawal from overseas bases.  The New York Times calls for American accountability and new laws to fund repair of environmental damage.
 

1999

FEBRUARY

Mennonite Central Committee (Washington DC) sends a letter to Sec. Albright calling on the US to remove the threat to health and environment at former US bases in the Philippines.
 

APRIL

  • Christina Leano and Amy Toledo, representing the People’s Task Force, meet with State Department Philippine Desk Officer Bill Moore and present 1,943 signatures calling on the US to take responsibility for clean-up.  A phone and fax barrage to the US State Department takes place on the same day.
  • People’s Task Force organizes an advanced screening of the move, “A Civil Action” to increase awareness of the issue.  Screening is attended by a thousand people. 
  • Toxic waste victims file a formal complaint to the Philippine Commission for Human Rights.  CHR starts support to toxic victims. CHR Chair Aurora Recina raises toxic problem at a United Nations Human Rights International Convention in Geneva.
  • US Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security Sherri Goodman responds to a letter from Philippine Senator Loren Legarda-Leviste, Chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment, to US Senator John Chafee, Chair of the US Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. Goodman insists in her letter that the US has “no further obligations in the Philippines.”
     

MAY

Philippine Senate ratifies the Philippine-United States  Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) after heated public and Senate debates on the controversial agreement, which critics say, would now allow the US Armed Forces and Navy to dump their toxic wastes throughout the Philippines and poison and cause environmental destruction THRU MILITARY EXERCISES NATIONWIDE.
 

JUNE

US Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota introduces an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill requiring the Department of Defense to disclose any existing information on environmental contamination at former US bases in foreign countries. The amendment is weakened by several loopholes as it goes to the US House and Senate committees.
 

JULY

  • Lingap Clark,  a health program initiated by the People’s Task Force for Bases Clean-up for the toxic victims in the communities surrounding Clark, was launched in coordination with the Commission on Human Rights and the offices of Senator Legarda-Leviste, Senator Jaworski, and Representative Alvarez.
  • The Philippine Senate Committees on the Environment and Health, under Senator Legarda-Leviste, and Senator Flavier, conduct two public hearings on the toxic waste issue.
     

AUGUST

After a meeting with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which takes up the toxic contamination issue with their visiting American counterparts, US Bishops back the call of the CBCP to urge the US government to clean up the toxic mess at the former US bases.
 

SEPTEMBER

  • The Philippine Senate’s Committees on the Environment and Health, under Senator Jaworski and Senator Flavier conduct the 3rd hearing on the toxics issue.
  • The Philippine House of Representative adopts Resolution No. 75, calling on Pres. Estrada to call upon the government of the United States to clean-up toxic and hazardous wastes left behind in the former US bases.
     

2000

MAY

On May 16, 2000 the Philippine Senate Report No. 237 is released after public hearings conducted by the Senate Committees on the Environment and Natural Resources, Health and Demograph, and Foreign Relations Committee. Senate Committee Report No. 237 concludes that there is “substantial environmental contamination” at the former US bases at Clark and Subic. It calls upon the US government to assume responsibility, and calls upon the Philippine Executive to raise this at the diplomatic level.
 

AUGUST

On August 18, 2000, hundreds of toxic contamination victims at Clark and Subic simultaneously file a suit against the US Government and Philippine government before the Angeles and Olongapo City Regional Trial Courts.

 

 

 

 

The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2012

 

 

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