No haggling over reef fine–Abaya



The penalty for the damage caused to the Tubbataha Reefs by a US Navy minesweeper is non-negotiable, Transportation Secretary Joseph E.A. Abaya said Sunday.

But to be able to conduct a thorough investigation, the Philippine government should have access to the commanding officer and crew of the USS Guardian which has been stuck in the marine park since  Jan. 17, Abaya said.

“Well, there are laws in place. I don’t think this is subject to tawaran (haggling) or negotiation. I heard of the figure of $300 [fine] per square meter. If that is really engraved in the law then there’s no room for negotiation whether this is high or low,” he told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Abaya said he had yet to look into whether there would be a need to impose an additional fine for the damage left by the minesweeper on the world-renowned reefs pending its extrication.

On the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, President Aquino told reporters the US Navy would be held liable and be made to pay for the damage.

The 63-meter, 1,300-ton ship, part of the US naval fleet stationed in Japan, docked at the former American naval base in Subic Bay on Jan. 12 for routine refueling, resupply and rest and recreation.

Palawan stop


It was scheduled to make a brief stop at Puerto Princesa City before heading off to its next port of call in India when it grazed the reef and got stuck 128 kilometers off Palawan 11 days ago.

The US Navy said a faulty navigational map or possible errors in the USS Guardian’s navigational system had caused it to stray into a protected marine area.

US officials have apologized for the accident and the damage it has caused to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea.

Two ships from Singapore are due to arrive this week or the next to extricate the grounded ship from the reef.

This early, Abaya stressed the need for Philippine investigators’ free access to the commanding officer and crew of the grounded ship to get a full picture of what happened.

“So we are conducting our investigation. It has been done since Day 1 and, necessarily, to have a thorough and complete investigation is we should have access to the duty personnel, the duty officer, and even the commanding officer to at least get a chance to hear them out on what actually happened so we could complete the picture of what transpired,” he said.

But this has to be coordinated through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Abaya said.


‘Essential ingredient’


“I have mentioned again to Secretary (Albert) del Rosario that that is an essential ingredient of the investigation,” he said.

Abaya reiterated that the government would insist on vetting the US Navy’s operation to salvage the ship.

“The least we would want is a scenario where they go about their way without us knowing about it. The President has strictly instructed us that any salvage plan should be vetted by the Philippine side and should be approved by the Philippine side,” he said.

So far, the general feedback from environmental groups in the area was that the US Navy has been “transparent,” he said.

“Of course, not all information, if they consider it confidential, is readily shared. But at least for public consumption and for planning purposes, our counterparts from the American side have been cooperating,” he said.

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  • Mario_Garcia

    He incident is deliberately caused, the US ship with its sophisticated gadgets would never fail to detect the cotsl reefs. There must be anothermotive.

    • Bob Couttie

       Yeah, the fishermen dynamiting the reef hired them to ground the ship cover up the damage.

      • Mario_Garcia

        Nice funny try but too far from reality.

      • Bob Couttie

        Not nearly as far from reality as claiming that the vessel was grounded deliberately, at night, putting the crew at risk of death.

      • Mario_Garcia

        There must be something nearby that they want to take a look upon but don’t have the alibi to do so. Or they might be taking the opportunity to install something while doing the so called repairs of the reef.

  • Berne Guerrero

    Section 20 of RA 10067 provides that “Section 20. Damages to the Reef. – Damages to the reef shall subject the responsible person or entity to the payment of administrative fines set by the TPAMB based on current valuation standards and to the payment of the cost of restoration.” On the other hand, Chapter 4, Rule 21, of the Administrative Order No. 1, series of 2012, of the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board, provides that “Rule 21. Damage to the Reef. Damage to the reef shall subject the responsible person or entity to the payment of administrative fines set by the TPAMB based on the current valuation standards, which shall not be less than Twelve Thousand Pesos (PhP12,000.00) per square meter. The violators shall be also liable for the payment of the cost of restoration which shall not be less than 12,000.00 per square meter, or as may be determined by the TPAMB.”

    From the above, under Philippine law and contrary to Sec. Abaya’s position, it is clear that the one who damages the reef is liable for administrative fines AND to the payment of the cost of restoration. The administrative fine is based on the TPAMB’s current valuation standard, which under AO1, s. 2012 is an amount not less than P12,000 per square meter. On the other hand, the cost of restoration, which is a separate amount from the administrative fine, is either an amount that is not less than P12,000 per square meter or an amount determined by the TPAMB. It is clear that the TPAMB can impose a higher claim for cost of
    restoration above P12,000 per square meter, based on a formula that would take in consideration empirical facts on actual restoration. The P12,000 per square meter minimum valuation is not a fixed maximum valuation for cost of restoration under Philippine law.

    On the other hand, the United States may insist or direct the Philippines to set its claim, not under Philippine laws, but under the United States’ Foreign Claims Act (10 U.S.C. § 2734-2736).

    (a) (1) thereof provides: “(a) To promote and to maintain friendly relations through the prompt settlement of meritorious claims, the Secretary concerned, or an officer or employee designated by the Secretary, may appoint, under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, one or more claims commissions, each composed of one or more officers or employees or combination of officers or employees of the armed forces, to settle and pay in an amount not more than $100,000, a claim against the United States for— (1) damage to, or loss of, real property of any foreign country or of any political subdivision or inhabitant of a foreign country, including damage or loss incident to use and occupancy”

    (b)(1) thereof provides: “(b) A claim may be allowed under subsection (a) only if— (1) it is presented within two years after it accrues”

    (d) and (e) thereof provide: “(d) If the Secretary concerned considers that a claim in excess of $100,000 is meritorious, and the claim otherwise is payable under this section, the Secretary may pay the claimant $100,000 and report any meritorious amount in excess of $100,000 to the Secretary of the Treasury for payment under section 1304 of title 31″; and “(e) Except as provided in subsection (d), no claim may be paid under this section unless the amount tendered is accepted by the claimant in full satisfaction”; respectively.

    • Joe Kano

      Tayo’y mga Pinoy;

      Tayo’y hindi Kano;

      Wag kang nagagalit;

      Kung maliit lang ang multa mo.

      Wag mong kalimutan: walang tawad.

  • joboni96

    huliin na mga u.s. navy na yan
    kung hindi pa tumakbo tulad ni mcartur ww2

    kompiskahin na rin yang barko
    tulad sa mga intsik switik

    si dewey noon
    nadenggoy si emilio aguinaldo

    sana naman hindi madenggoy ulit
    ng mga imperyalista

    ang apo ni aguinaldong si sec abaya
    kahit graduate pa siya ng annapolis u.s. navy academy

    ang agenda ng imperyalista
    gawing base ang bayan natin na naman

    sa gerra nila sa pinagkakautangang intsik switik
    na tayo na naman ang tatamaan

    habang sitting pretty sila unscathed
    thousands of miles away

    ang barkong ito ay another imperialist psywar operation
    to break down pilipino resistance to recolonization

    the recovered drone was another similar psywar operation of the imperialist
    yung sa scarborough, tonkin gulf incident style pakana din nila


    • Joe Kano

      bawal umihi dito.


      • joboni96

        cia jo kolani

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