Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. | PN File

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has ordered the Western Command (WESCOM) to probe the alleged dumping of human waste by Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), since the news has spread online.

However, he said the picture accompanying the claim was determined to have been taken in the Australian Great Barrier Reef in 2014.

In a statement sent Monday, July 13, to Palawan News, Lorenzana said the underlying story raised doubt on the Simularity Report’s veracity.

“Therefore, this intent to mislead has cast great doubt on the accurateness of the Simularity Report. We also question the conclusion reached by Simularity from just looking at satellite photos,” he said.

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“Be that as it may, I have directed the Western Command (WESCOM) who has jurisdiction over the WPS to verify and investigate,” Lorenzana added.

He said that while they are checking and verifying if the claim is accurate, such an act would be irresponsible and harmful to the marine environment in the territory, if true.

“Despite conflicting claims and interests by states in the South China Sea, all nations must be responsible stewards of our natural resources and environment,” he said.

Meanwhile, WESCOM commander Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez said that all of their units have already been entrusted with being alert in the WPS in the event of such occurrences.

He said that they would continue to safeguard the region’s ecology from unethical actions committed by whoever.

“All WESCOM units are already tasked to be vigilant on such incidents in the WPS. The WESCOM continues to undertake all necessary interventions, in conjunction with interagency efforts, to ensure natural and environmental preservation and conservation in the WPS,” he said.

The story surfaced this week when Simularity co-founder and CEO Liz Derr spoke with national TV stations about how human waste and sewage from scores of Chinese ships anchored in the South China Sea and portions of the West Philippine Sea are wreaking havoc on the region’s resource-rich seas.

Simularity is a company that deals with “AIADS, AI-driven satellite image anomaly detection, with solutions for defense, security, municipal governments, and private verticals”.

Derr told the national news channels that for many years, Chinese ships have been dumping raw sewage on reefs, resulting in hazardous Chlorophyll-a blooms in the seas. This may ultimately result in damage to coral reefs, rendering them unsuitable for fish and other marine life reproductive habitats.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.