ARCHIVE: Toxic Philippines
In the early 1900s when Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base were manned in Olonggapo and Angeles City, respectively, the Philippines did not have any environmental protection laws. Due to the host country's nonexistent environmental protection laws, the disposal of contaminants at both Clark and Subic was less than conscientious.
Inside the bases, incidences of dumping of hazardous waste, leaking underground storage tanks, toxic spills and other environmentally harmful events continued for years with little or no oversight.
In tne 1990s, Clark Air Base Command (CABCOM) saw an influx of around 20,000 refugees from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and the subsequent landslides from the ash fall. During those years, thousands of refugees relied on well water for drinking, cooking and bathing. Contaminated water is said to be the primary cause of many health problems that started developing a few years after relocation. Many of those affected were children.
The United States government, while admitting that there have been findings of contamination in both Clark and Subic bases, maintains that its contract with the Philippine government frees it from clean-up obligations, despite the appeal of NGOs and affected families for action on grounds of moral responsibility.