Gov’t to ensure US will pay for Tubbataha damage

In this photo taken on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 and released by the Philippine Coast Guard in Manila, on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, the bow of the USS Guardian, a US Navy minesweeper, is lifted by a crane during a continuing salvage operation off Tubbataha Reef, a World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea, 640 kilometers (400 miles) southwest of Manila, Philippines. The ship ran aground before dawn on Jan. 17, damaging coral reef. AP/Philippine Coast Guard

MANILA, Philippines—The government will make sure the United States makes good on its pledge to compensate the Philippines for the damage inflicted by a US Navy ship on the Tubbataha Reef marine sanctuary, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday.

Salvage operations to remove the USS Guardian, a US Navy minesweeper that got stranded on the protected area on Jan. 17, were completed on Saturday, or more than two months later.

According to Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, the foreign office’s spokesperson, because the issue involved another country, even though communications would go through the Department of Foreign Affairs, the work of seeking compensation involved the coordination of different agencies “to make sure the damage that was caused is fully accounted for and that payment for the damage were undertaken by the US.”

The US government, through its embassy in Manila, said Saturday that it was committed to pay for any damage that the Guardian caused to what is considered a world treasure.

A marine ecological assessment by Philippine government agencies and the US Navy is expected to begin in the next few days to fully appraise the damage to the reef, initially estimated to cover 4,000 square meters of the marine sanctuary.

The Philippines and the United States are conducting separate investigations of the incident, a rare occurrence in which the US military suffered the complete loss of a vital naval asset at peacetime.

“We would like to emphasize that the maritime casualty investigation team led by the Philippine Coast Guard continues to conduct an independent investigation in order that this kind of accident will not happen again,” said Hernandez.

“The US has its own investigation on what happened and since the [Guardian’s] crew have already been assigned to [the US base in] Japan, then their investigation is being conducted there,” he said.

He said the two countries maintain “information sharing and cooperation” on the Guardian grounding investigation and that a contingent from the Philippines had been invited to observe the US investigation.

A Philippine Coast Guard team will be flying to Japan to meet with US investigators as Guardian crewmen had refused to consent to a face-to-face interview, which the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has criticized.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said this was “humiliating” as the Philippines, the aggrieved party, appeared to be “pleading for the cooperation of US troops.”

He said the Guardian crew should never have been allowed to leave the country before a probe could be conducted.

“The probe should have taken place here, under our own terms, under our domestic laws. The US troops should have been held for the violation of Philippine laws,” said Reyes in a statement.

“Our sovereignty has clearly been undermined. Our probe will only go as far as the US Navy allows it to go. That is truly anomalous and is an affront to our country. Why should the Philippine government submit to the conditions of the US Navy when it is the US Navy that caused the damage in the first place. It is patently untenable and speaks of the subservience of the Aquino government to US dictates,” he said.

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  • Crazy_horse101010

    where is bayan when chinese ships run aground and destroy reefs like lagunais protected reef at talisday cebu the divers that it almost ran over tried to warn it but it ran into it anyway creating a 20 foot trench this happened march 6 2009 the captain paid 5000 piso fine and disappeared. i never seen anyone shedding any tears over it it was in the paper 2 days hen then forgotten. maybe coral there isnt worth has much but more divers visited it as it was within sight of cebu city. more double standards by people who could care less about reefs just want america out of here

  • CommonSens6

    Bayan you pathetic POS you should join Singson and both of you get
    high on crack in Amsterdam where it’s legal if not find a real job
    and not just bark at the US every opportunity you get you commie
    extortionist and terrorist! You should change your name EPP : Extortionist
    & Executioner Party of the Philippines!

    • makinagulingon_nasud

      BAYAN DOES NOT FIT THEIR MODE OF OPERAND…..UOD IS MORE APPROPHIATE
      THEY NEVER EVEN WHISPERED ABOUT THE RAPE OF THE OCEAN OFF THE COAST OF COTABATO LAST MONTH AN AREA TWICE THE SIZE OF MANILA—GONE FOREVER—AN AREA THAT DWARFS THE US MISHAP ON THE SAME REEF GREENPEACE RAN AGROUND AND PAID $1,700 IN DAMAGES FOR,,,CUT THE CRAP UOD!!

  • chitetskoy

    eh sa mga Intsik bakit ayaw pansinin itong Bayan? kapag sa US mainit na ang ulo at puwet.

  • joboni96

    ensure first the
    ARREST OF RESPONSIBLE US NAVY PERSONNEL

    if the government is not

    miseducated
    kolonisadong utak
    collaborators

    • Crazy_horse101010

      tell you what your a big internet hero go arrest them. show some balls instead of crying all the time. because your constant ranting is getting tiresome and after you arrest them go and join your comrades army in north korea. put your money where your big mouth is. comrade

  • victor1052

    Playing tough, big boy style

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

    This constant media harping on compensation has been so pathetic that all thinking Filipinos should be truly embarrassed by now.

    The question was asked and answered long ago. There is absolutely nothing new here.

    The reporters must be so incredibly lazy that all they need for yet another senseless story is to ask a spokesman to repeat the obvious one more time, then tag on yet another silly and myopic statement from the radical fringe, and they can turn in their bogus article and go to lunch.

    These repetitive attempts to manufacture controversy are disgraceful.

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