When United States military forces withdrew in 1992 from Subic Naval Base and Clark Air Force Base, it marked the first time in nearly 100 years that Philippine soil was no longer home to any foreign military power. But although the troops had gone, they left behind an unfortunate legacy of toxic materials and other pollutants that have had a devastating effect on the Philippine people – and especially the children.
Tons of dangerous substances were abandoned by U.S. forces, in the sea and on the ground, causing the contamination of thousands of residents and employees of the bases. An early estimate counted between 2,500 and 3,000 people affected by this chemical pollution. The bases became a poison for the people by involving an impressive progression of cancers, leukaemia and other congenital malformations. It is alleged that mercury, lead, asbestos, pesticides and uranium wastes contributed to the contamination of the water and environment.
Monaco’s Princess Caroline of Hanover, as president of “The Friends of Childhood,” an international association founded by her mother, Prince Grace, rang the alarm bell in Europe about this ecological, human and social catastrophe. But the United States refused to acknowledge its role and offered no medical assistance or help with the clean-up.