Philippines presses for payment over damaged reef

Mar 31, 2013
This photo, released on March 30, 2013 by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), shows a portion of the stern of the USS Guardian being lifted by a boat crane during its salvage operation at Tubbataha reef, off Palawan island, western Philippines.

The Philippines on Sunday welcomed the removal of a US minesweeper that had been stuck on a protected coral reef for 10 weeks, but stressed that compensation must be paid for the environmental damage.

Salvage crews contracted by the US Navy Saturday extracted the last remaining piece of the USS Guardian from the Tubbataha reef, a in a remote area of the Sulu Sea.

"We maintain there must be accountability and we will enforce our existing laws," said Herminio Coloma, a spokesman for President Benigno Aquino.

"We will adopt needed measures to prevent a repetition (of the incident)," he said.

Initial investigation showed that the ship had damaged about 4,000 square metres (43,055 square feet) of the reef, famous for its rich marine life that divers say rivals that of Australia's .

Tubbataha is a protected marine park under Philippine law, and is off limits to any vessel unless permission is granted by park authorities.

Fines can reach up to $585 for every square metre that has been damaged, officials said.

While only a small portion of the marine park has been damaged, the incident has stoked nationalist sentiment and revived debate about a controversial agreement that allows a US military presence in the country.

The United States has repeatedly apologised for the incident, but has not clearly explained why a naval vessel with state-of-the-art equipment ran aground in an area that local officials said was clearly visible in any map.

The US embassy in Manila said the 68-metre (223-foot) vessel was en route to Indonesia when the incident happened in January.

Angelique Songco, head of the Tubbataha Management Office that oversees the , said US and Philippine divers would remain in the area for further clean-up operations to ensure no debris was left behind.

Explore further: Meeting to cover cleanup plan for former nuke missile site

Related Stories

US Navy ship removed from Philippine reef

Mar 30, 2013

Salvage teams on Saturday removed the last piece of a US Navy ship that was stuck on a UNESCO World Heritage-listed coral reef in the Philippines for more than 10 weeks, the coast guard said.

Philippines: Stranded US Navy ship ignored warnings

Jan 21, 2013

A US Navy minesweeper that has been stuck on a World Heritage-listed coral reef in the Philippines since last week ignored warnings to avoid the area, a government official said on Monday.

US Navy to dismantle ship on Philippine reef

Jan 30, 2013

A badly damaged minesweeper stranded on a World Heritage-listed coral reef in the Philippines for nearly two weeks will need to be dismantled before it is removed, the US Navy said Wednesday.

US Navy ship set to be lifted from Philippine reef

Mar 28, 2013

The final sections of a US Navy ship that has been stuck on a UN World Heritage-listed coral reef in the Philippines for more than 10 weeks are set to be removed within days, an official said Thursday.

Funnel removed from US Navy ship stuck on coral reef

Feb 27, 2013

Salvage teams have removed the funnel from a US Navy ship stranded on a UN World Heritage-listed coral reef in the Philippines after bad weather caused weeks of delays, the coastguard said on Wednesday.

Recommended for you

H2O: The province of provinces

6 hours ago

Unsafe drinking water is a topic usually connected to the developing world. But the regular recurrence of boil-water advisories, and widely publicised outbreaks in towns like Walkerton and Kashechewan have ...

China announces climate target for Paris deal

9 hours ago

China on Tuesday announced its contribution to a global climate pact that's supposed to be adopted this year in Paris, pledging to reduce the intensity of its carbon emissions and to halt their growth by 2030.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.