US invites PH to Tubbataha probe


USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The United States government has invited Philippine officials to Japan for a briefing on the investigation into the grounding of the USS Guardian in Tubbataha Reef, a World Heritage site, in January.

“The Philippine Navy and the Coast Guard have been invited to come to Japan to also partake and be briefed on the (ongoing) investigation,” said Lt. Col. Jason Chamness, Deputy Chief of the Jusmag-Philippines.

Chamness said the investigation into the grounding of the vessel had “gotten far enough” to allow the US to conduct a preliminary briefing for the Philippine officials.

“We are coordinating (the briefing) and they’ll probably go back a couple more times as the investigation continues,” Chamness said.

Asked if the investigation had given US authorities an idea of how the grounding of the US Navy minesweeper happened, US Ambassador to Manila Harry Thomas said: “The investigation is ongoing. Its clear intention is to find out what happened. We will share the details with President Aquino and Philippine government investigators.”

Thomas also apologized again for the incident, which destroyed an estimated 4,000 square meters of coral in the reef.

Thomas said the US government was “spending lots of funds” to remove the ship from the reef and was intent on finding solutions to avoid a similar incident happening again, such as conducting symposia and conferences.

He noted that there had been 11 accidents at the reef, including two involving Philippine ships between 2011 and 2013, before the USS Guardian ran aground in Tubbataha.

Years to repair reef

“When it’s over, we will assess the damage with the Philippine government and see how it can be repaired. We know honestly that it will take years to repair that part of the reef,” Thomas said.

The dismantling of the USS Guardian continued Thursday with the cutting and removal of a number of “small compartments below the main deck,” according to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Citing a report from the PCG-led Task Force Tubbataha in Palawan, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Commander Armand Balilo, also chief of its public affairs office, said “the salvage operation progressed with works mainly below the main deck.”

The international salvage team contracted by the US Navy to remove the ship from the reef also “cut and opened a portion of the main deck to get access to the ship’s hull,” Balilo said.

Weather good for cutting

In a text message to the Inquirer, Balilo said the team continued “cutting and securing pipelines and other pipes connected to different compartments below the main deck.”

The task force, headed by Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, also chief of the PCG Palawan district, reported to Coast Guard headquarters in Manila that the “weather has been very favorable to continue the salvage operation,” noting that “wind speeds [were] 11 to 16 knots [with] waves of 0.3 to 1.2 meters in the Tubbataha area.”

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  • Crazy_horse101010

    wonder how come you never heard about the flippino ships who ran aground

    • ClarkInKuwait

      got to put your ears near the ground. And if they did, they were fined hard too without too much fanfare and publicity. A couple of lines in a newspaper at page 8 will do.

      • Crazy_horse101010

        like green peace and their 4000 dollar

      • ClarkInKuwait

        I doubt the green peace ship was Philippine registered. But it was fined as per the law. The ship did not damage a big area of the reef though. Unlike USS Guardian.

        If Americans do not want to pay fine or to be subjected to negative publicity, why dont they sink or ground their ships in American waters. AlasKa maybe so that it will only destroy American pristine environment. Heard about Exxon Valdez? Or perhaps the British Petroleum disaster in the Gulf of Mexico? The American government got billion and billions of dollars in fines for those disasters.

        I doubt if Philippine government or the public will get mad.

      • Crazy_horse101010

        was you there or in kuwait all you are is just another americamn hater you could care less about any reefs you just want to bash if you cared you would try to save whats left i have never seen one bleeding heart do anything to stop fish being blasted you just make noise oh i forgot the cyanide poisoning that is going on also where nothing will ever grow back the area was the size of a basketball court i hear more than that wiped out every night. you dont even make sense about the green peace ship . anyway attack but i want you down here saving the reefs show me what a hero you are charge

      • ClarkInKuwait

        I know.. It is alright for Americans to raise hell if a tiny weeny bit of their corals got destroyed and not for Filipinos to do the same. As I said, Americans will not get flack for their fiasco if they do their sinking and their grounding in their back yard. It is as simple as that. If you can not understand the logic, you are lost.

        Are you one of those Americans who comes in any debate blabbing about without any idea what is going on?

      • Crazy_horse101010

        i will tell you kind of american i am now that i calmed down. on mondays i go to the nearest beach and pick up garbage that people throw because they are to lazy to walk 10 meters to a garbage can do you how many diapers ive seen. i pick up garbage by my house that fisherman throw in the ocean i pay 500 pisos for sea turtles and set them loose. i have the only septic tank for kilometers while everyone else pumps their sewage in the ocean. i try to raise human awareness on the blasting of reefs but its a no win battle because people dont want to know or care. i dont raise racial slurs about flippinos.. if if you cant understand that logic this country is lost, this ship thing has been going on for months sometimes 3 or 4 times a day in these forums america is paying they said sorry countless times. they paid more damages than all them ships put together. im sick of hearing about .it you cant whip a dead horse .

      • ClarkInKuwait

        Good for you sir to try to clean up the Philippine beaches. There is suppose to be a bantay dagat (sea watchers) for every municipality that takes care of watching over illegal fishing like dynamite blasting and cyanide poisoning.

        If you are feed up with the news of USS Guardian, my advice is to skip reading it. Nobody wants to give you hypertension.

  • rock_steady

    Very good then. At least the US is being transparent about this. They have damaged our reefs but they will be helping us rebuild it. China on the other hand, keeps trawling the riches of our oceans until nothing is left for our people, while it bullies us with their strong military. China has been warring with itself and its neighbors since it has been united under the Qin dynasty. So their people only knows of war and use of force to get what they want, even if that means getting what is not theirs. Their communist leaders have nothing different in mind. Always using force to advance its agenda. Let us not be blinded by Chinese propaganda and all the leftist groups rallying outside of the US Embassy in Manila. US is our only ally once sh!t hits the fan.

    • ClarkInKuwait

      The US will help the Philippines when it suits them and not the other way around. So it is better for the Filipinos to learn how to stand first on their own in military terms. Self sufficiency and effective defensive posture. The Philippine government have to develop, acquire and maintain sufficient assets in order to achieve this objective.

    • Alfa Saclao

      transparent after how many days/months past since that boat was in there?

  • ClarkInKuwait

    Record one lesson learned for this accident. All US navy captains visiting the Philippines with their vessels should undergo proficiency test in Manila given by Philippine Coast Guards to ensure that they are capable of navigating the Philippine waters safely and they obey local laws.

    • Alfa Saclao

      proficiency test? perhaps, but if they respect and listen to the rangers who told them not to go there in the first place, it should not have happened.

    • Crazy_horse101010

      lets see in the last month ship from malaysia sinks and causes large oil spells on beaches flippino ship runs aground in sight of cebu harbor within sight of the pier it had 400 passengers. cebu harbor flippino ship turns over the fisherman are worried about oil in the fish breeding grounds. i see there is a lot proficiency going on oh there wasnt much in the papers about these events and no feeding frenzy

      • ClarkInKuwait

        If Americans do not want to pay fine or to be subjected to negative publicity, why dont they sink or ground their ships in American waters. AlasKa maybe so that it will only destroy American pristine environment. Heard about Exxon Valdez? Or perhaps the British Petroleum disaster in the Gulf of Mexico? The American government got billion and billions of dollars in fines for those disasters. Up to now, bad publicity still hounds BP and billion dollars more are being sought by civil suit.

        In comparison, the Philippine response to USS Guardian is too muted.

      • giltor

        oh – QUIT your BELLYACHING ……

        AHA! you can spell “malaise YA” correctly but not F I L I P I N O.

        SO, you’re not totally dyslexic, among your other MENTAL DEFECTS.


        You MALICIOUS Malisyan DOGGIE POOP.

  • disqusted0fu

    The problems of the PH are piling up quick. But all the Aquino administration is doing is to defend themselves by talking and deviating the attention to made-up achievements and other irrelevant issues, leaving the problems of the nation completely unsolved. What’s going to happen to the country???

    • ClarkInKuwait

      Believe it or not, the country is doing fine economically. More jobs, more hot money as investments, record breaking foreign reserves, stock index in its historic highs. Corruption is being addressed head on.The Filipinos do not have it better. And it is forecasted to be more rosy.

  • misuari playboy

    Sultan Jamalul Kiram is calling all loyalist to join his army and have a picnic in front of the capitol hill in DC. please wear army fatigue and bring along M16 and grenade launchers. should our friendly US government decided to allow us to stay, sultan kiram will award everyone in his army 100 acres of land in DC. otherwise we will not leave and ready to die defending our picnic. honor is above your common sense. interested, please contact our lawyer in hotel maxim.

  • joboni96

    ttarantadoong imperyalistang u.s.

    pilipino ang magiimbestiga dyan
    teritoryo pa ng pilipinas yan

    di pa kompleto ang recolonization niyo

    unless masusunod mga u.s. collaborators
    sa gobyerno

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