Monday, September 27, 2010

Corregidor misidentified as ammunition dump

The two following pieces of information, or rather misinformation, hit the media in the last day.

Quoted from an ABS-CBN News report about the meeting between President Aquino of the Philippines, and US President Obama: “Both leaders talked about a US assistance in cleaning up an ammunition dump in Corregidor.”

Writer Aurea Calica, in a front page article in the Sept. 27 issue of The Philippine Star says: “President Aquino … managed to seek Washington’s help in cleaning up a military dump off Corregidor island [sic] in Bataan [sic].” (Corregidor Island is administratively a part of Cavite, not Bataan.)

Corregidor Island is one of the top tourist spots in the Philippines, expecting more than 70,000 guests this year. It is run by the Corregidor Foundation, Inc., (CFI) and serviced daily by Sun Cruises, Inc. (SCI). Rest assured that if there were live ammunition dumps on Corregidor, we would know about it. Tourists need not fear explosions from ordnance that has long since been cleared from here. CFI and SCI would not and will not put their guests at risk by exposing them to old bombs.

We need to make this perfectly clear: The island under discussion is NOT Corregidor! The ammunition dump is located on Caballo Island, the former American base called Fort Hughes, which is approximately 2 kilometers south of Corregidor. The Philippine Navy has kept a small contingent on the island for many years in an effort to keep anyone from coming onto the island. The request for ammunition clearing is for Caballo Island, which contains many 14-inch shells which, if accidentally detonated, could be catastrophic to that small island.

The report from ABS-CBN (which is watched world-wide by Filipinos) is clearly incorrect by portraying Corregidor as the island of concern, while Calica’s use of the phrase “off Corregidor island” is easily misunderstood. The word “off” in this context means “near,” rather than “on,” but it is clearly a poor word choice, as evidenced by the massive confusion and distress among those with historical and/or tourism connections to Corregidor Island. We can only hope that other media covering this issue have correctly identified Caballo Island and that ABS-CBN and the Philippine Star will promptly issue corrections.

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