WASHINGTON (September 20, 2000) -- Pollution at the sites of former U.S. military bases in the Philippines merits attention from the U.S. government, according to a letter from an official at the U.S. Catholic Conference issued today.
Gerard F. Powers, Director of the Office of International Justice and Peace, today sent a letter to the chairman of the House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific encouraging support for a congressional resolution calling attention to the situation. He cited a statement by four Philippine bishops whose dioceses are most directly impacted. That statement accuses the United States of denying "its responsibility for cleaning up the contamination citing lack of legal obligation."
The text of Powers' letter follows:
"Dear Chairman Bereuter,
"I write to encourage your support for the resolution introduced by Representative Robert Underwood, H.Con.Res. 355, expressing "the sense of the Congress regarding environmental contamination and health effects emanating from the former United States military facilities in the Philippines."
"The Catholic bishops of the Philippines, especially the bishops of the four dioceses most affected by the continuing problems associated with the toxic waste, have brought this issue before the U.S. Catholic Conference as a matter of basic justice. Taking some action to alleviate this human tragedy would clearly be an important step in maintaining and improving our good relations with the people of the Philippines.
"Enclosed, for your information, is a copy of a letter sent to President Clinton by Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, President of the U.S. Catholic Conference, on this matter, as well as a statement of the bishops of the four dioceses most affected."