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Visiting American lawmakers reiterate US apologies for minesweeper grounding

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The USS Guardian AP/AFP WESCOM

MANILA, Philippines—Visiting members of the United States House of Representatives reiterated their country’s regrets for the grounding of the USS Guardian on the protected Tubbataha Reef, an official of the US Embassy in Manila said Wednesday.

Brian Goldbeck, the Embassy’s Chargé d’ Affaires, shared this on his Twitter account Wednesday morning, recounting the visit of US lawmakers headed by US Congress foreign affairs committee chairman Ed Royce and five of his Capitol Hill colleagues on Tuesday afternoon.

“In Royce meeting with Speaker (Feliciano Belmonte) plus 11 members, [US lawmakers] expressed regrets re Guardian incident, commitment to protect environment and close cooperation with the Philippine government,” Goldbeck said in his account (@USEmbManilaNo2).

US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. and top officials of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet had apologized for the incident, saying the US is aware of the importance of Tubbataha’s unique environment.

The US Congress delegation visited the Philippine House of Representatives on Tuesday after a meeting with Cabinet secretaries at the Department of Foreign Affairs, where the two parties are known to have had no discussion of the incident.

US Representatives Gregory Meeks, Vern Buchanan, Eliot Engel, Matthew James Salmon and Thomas Anthony Marino joined the delegation in the three-day visit, the first three known to be members of the US Congress’ environmental caucus.

DFA officials had confirmed that the two sides virtually had no discussion of the US Navy ship accident as talks focused on expanding Philippine-US defense and economic cooperation and Philippine gains in the areas of preventing human trafficking and human rights violations and climate change mitigation.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje was known to have briefly mentioned the incident but “there was not much of a discussion” of the incident, said Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia.

Militant umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, which has long been opposed to US presence in the Philippines, said it was “mind-boggling” why the reef accident was not taken up in Tuesday’s DFA meeting.

“The PH government should have impressed upon the US congressional delegation that we are dead serious in seeking damage claims for Tubbataha. The PH government should have impressed upon the US congressional delegation that the initial attitude of the officers and crew of the USS Guardian was unacceptable,” said Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. in a statement.

Bayan is among groups pressing for US accountability, criticizing why the crew of the USS Guardian was allowed to leave the ship and sail off to Japan base without first facing liability for the accident.

The USS Guardian, a minesweeper, rammed into Tubbataha Reef on the morning of Jan. 17 following a refuel and re-supply port call in Subic. The US Navy has cited faulty navigational equipment as the cause of the accident. Concerned groups have called the incident an environmental disaster.

Philippine and US authorities are now working on the delicate removal of the warship from the marine sanctuary without causing further damage to the Unesco World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea. Since its grounding two weeks ago, the USS Guardian has reportedly damaged some 1,500 square meters of sensitive coral habitat in the protected reef.


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Tags: Diplomacy , Environment , Foreign affairs , Maritime , navy , Philippines , ship accident , Tubbataha Reef

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    THERE SHOULD BE LOYALTY CHECK AMONG CHINESE LIVING IN THE PHILIPPINES. THOSE WHO ARE FOUND DISLOYAL SHOULD BE DEPORTED BACK TO CHINA AND THEIR PROPERTY AND BUSINESSES SHOULD BE CONFISCATED BY THE GOVERMENT AND DISTRIBUTED TO THE POOR.

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    HOW MANY DIED DURING THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION?

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    RED CHINA WILL NOT GET EVEN A SINGLE DROP OF OIL. PERIOD.

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    THE 50 CENTS CHINESE TROLLS ARE VERY FOND OF TELLING MYTHS AND LEGENDS.

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    THERE SHOULD BE LOYALTY CHECK AMONG CHINESE LIVING IN THE PHILIPPINES. THOSE WHO ARE FOUND DISLOYAL SHOULD BE DEPORTED BACK TO CHINA AND THEIR PROPERTY AND BUSINESSES SHOULD BE CONFISCATED BY THE GOVERMENT AND DISTRIBUTED TO THE POOR.

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    HOW MANY DIED DURING THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION?

    • kalikasanipagtanggol

       Yan ang kailangan ng pilipinas dahil sa dami na ng mga korap at kriminal lalo na sa gobyerno national at lokal!

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    RED CHINA SHOULD BE EXPELLED FROM THE SECURITY COUNCIL.
    SHE COULD BE REPLACED BY INDIA OR JAPAN.
    CHINA IS A DISGRACE TO THE UN.

  • entong238

    Kayong mga salot sa lipunan na bayaran ng mga kommunista pwede ba umalis na kayo sa pinas at hindi namin kayo kailangan dito. Mga anak kayo ng demonyo kaya wala kayong relihiyon. Mamatay tao kayo at extortionista kayong lahat./ Punta na kayo sa Tsina at doon kayo mamalagi. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan daw pwe. Lokohin niyo ang lelong niyong panot.

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    cia joe

    the imperialist way
    is to hide u.s. genocides in the philippines

    ng maka denggoy uli kayo

    isalang pilipino
    sa u.s. – intsik switik war ninyo
    via u.s. bases sa bayan namin

    kung talagang astig kayo
    exchange icbm’s

    huwag pa proxy proxy war

    gusto niyo di kayo tamaan sa conus

    mas astig al-qaeda

    • Crazy_horse101010

      brain dead

      • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

        talong wala sabi

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    Crazy_horse

    tama callsign



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