Latest Stories

Unesco willing to assess Tubbataha reef damage


REEFS ON THE ROCKS A diver observes a sleeping shark on a ledge at the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. Made up of two atolls, Tubbataha’s vertiginous walls are home to 12 species of sharks. Overfished because of the sharks’ valuable fins, Tubbataha offers one of the last guaranteed shark dives in the world. Although protected year-round by armed rangers who are stationed in two-month shifts, the reefs were defenseless against the rude intrusion of a US minesweeper three days ago when it ran aground in the Unesco-named World Heritage Site. YVETTE LEE/CONTRIBUTOR

MANILA, Philippines—The Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has expressed willingness to send a team of experts to the Tubbataha Reef to assess the damage caused by the grounding of a US Navy minesweeper in the Philippine marine park  which the UN agency declared a World Heritage Site in December 1993.

The information was relayed to the Inquirer on Thursday by Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, director of the Unesco Dream Center in Manila who is also the wife of Heherson Alvarez of the Climate Change Commission, an agency attached to the Office of the President.

In an e-mail, Alvarez said she had just talked with Dr. Hubert Gijzen, Unesco science bureau chief for the Asia-Pacific region, on the phone.

“They will send a team of experts for a mission to Tubbataha upon formal request by Philippine authorities,” she said.

Gijzen was apparently responding to Heherson Alvarez’ call for Unesco to conduct an “indepedent assessment” of the damage caused by the USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef, located 98 nautical miles southeast of Puerto Princesa City, capital of the island-province of Palawan.

The reef is home to hundreds of species of marine life and serves as a nesting place for birds and marine turtles, among others.

The US Navy ship has damaged at least 1,000 square meters of the reef, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.

In a statement last week, Heherson Alvarez said Unesco “would be in the best position to estimate the required amount for the total recovery of the damaged reef and the amount of work and time this will involve” and that it had the resources and the expertise for that kind of work.

In a related development, the Unesco’s World Heritage Centre (WHC) in Paris has expressed serious concern over the USS Guardian’s grounding on Tubbataha Reef, which it called a “tragic incident.”

In a letter to Philippine Ambassador to France Cristina Ortega, WHC Director Kishore Rao said they were “very sorry to hear about the tragic incident.”

“We have also been informed that there might be potential damage to the World Heritage property of the Tubbataha Reef National Park, which makes us concerned,” said Rao, adding, “in light of the importance of this issue, I would be grateful if you could send us as soon as possible any relevant information about the incident and its impart on the World Heritage property.”

Rao furnished the Unesco National Commission of the Philippines and its regional office in Jakarta copies of his letter.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Environment , Features , Regions , Tubbataha incident , USS Guardian , VFA

  • DakuAkongUtin

    E chopchop pa nila ang barko . What a big mess. Dugong Fil Am daw ang nagmamaneho sa barko kaya  nanahimik ang mga puti , Nagpasikat na magaling mag mamaneho , ayan wasak na ang Tubbthata Reef.

  • http://twitter.com/Joe_The_Kano Joe Kano

    This is wonderful! UNESCO can also help pay for reef restoration.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Malang the croc must regain strength before return to swamp, says mayor
  • Palace: Lacson’s version of Napoles testimony to be evaluated
  • Scientists eye iceberg bigger than Guam
  • Drilon: I’m not on Napoles’ list
  • Sonar finds 1888 San Francisco shipwreck
  • Sports

  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Marketplace