‘Not a penny over $1.4M for Tubbataha damage’


This handout photo taken on January 19, 2013 and released on January 20, 2013 by the Philippine Western Command (WESCOM) shows an aerial shot of US Navy minesweeper, the USS Guardian, as it remains trapped on the Tubbataha reef after it ran aground on the western Philippine island of Palawan. AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Officials of the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) will not ask for more than the $1.4 million (about P60 million) fine slapped on the United States following the grounding of its warship in  Tubbataha Reef.

“[The fine of] $1.4 million is but a slap on the wrist, as the salvage operation has been estimated to cost close to $45 million,” said Tubbataha park superintendent Angelique Songco in a statement.

“However, we respect the rule of law and this is the fine stipulated. The Tubbataha Management Office will not ask for anything more,” she said.

Songco told Agence France-Presse that she is “not worried about criticism (for the small amount).”

“We are not trying to put one over them and we hope they will do the same with us,” she said. “We don’t want to be dishonest. It is just a simple process—measure it correctly and then they pay. That is all. It is very straightforward.”

She said a letter requesting compensation would be sent to the US embassy next week.

The United States has apologized for the mishap and said it would cooperate in addressing the damage.

The commanding officer and three crew members of the USS Guardian were relieved of their duties over the grounding, the US Navy announced last week.

A team of divers and researchers from the TMO and World Wide Fund for Nature–Philippines just finished assessing the damage to the reef caused by the Jan. 17 grounding of the USS Guardian. Tubbataha is a World Heritage Site located in middle of the Sulu Sea.

Salvors finished extricating the last of the 68-meter Guardian on March 30. It had to be dismantled piece by piece so it could be lifted without damaging the reef further.

According to the report of the assessment team, “results indicate the damaged area spans 2,345.67 square meters—smaller than the 4,000 square meters originally estimated by an American team,” WWF-Philippines said in a statement.

Under Republic Act No. 10067, or the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009, a fine of about $600 or P24,000 per square meter of damaged reef is mandatory.

“Further park rule violations boosted the final total to slightly less than P60 million, or roughly $1.4 million,” the organization said.

WWF-Philippines vice chair and chief executive officer Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan said the fine to be paid to TMO should help it build “a significant endowment fund to sustain its operations through the years.”

“The basic issue here is not tourism. It is food security. This fresh infusion of funds will allow TMO to concentrate on putting the money to good use—from building a better Ranger Station to upgrading their capacity to manage the country’s most productive coral reef,” he said.

“Let us settle what must be settled, learn what must be learned, and move forward,” Tan said.

The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park protects almost 100,000 hectares of high quality marine habitats containing three atolls and a large area of deep sea.

Home to whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and Napoleon wrasse, the park supports more than 350 species of coral and almost 500 species of fish. For this, it has been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

The reserve also protects one of the few remaining colonies of breeding seabirds in the region, according to Unesco. With an AFP report

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  • Joe Kano

    US should gladly pay the fine and simply deduct it from any future aid.

    “Activists” and opportunist politicians should shut up and go away.

    Singco should clarify whether it is true that her rangers warned
    Guardian before the accident, as she has publicly claimed. If she was
    arrogant and mistaken, she should come clean and publicly apologize.

    The money should be used to restore the reef and establish aids to navigation to prevent any future mishaps.

    Tubbataha bosses should make their private hacienda more accessible
    to the masa, along with education about the need to preserve all reefs
    and ensure healthy ecosystems and food supplies.

    PH should start paying real attention to environmental protection and hold EVERYONE accountable, before it’s too late.

    PH media should consider how whiny sensationalism and superficial nationalist garbage really does harm the nation.

    There’s still a lot of good that can come from this whole mess.

    • Crazy_horse101010

      hope you are right.

    • ern

      agree with you… was an accident the US would have not wanted to happen, to say the least. It involved too much money and shame for them.

      Philippine “concerned citizens” should stop crowing as if they are guardians of heaven, when in fact living in sizzling hell they refuse to see.

      • kanoy


      • JK1000

        Idiot ! Go troll

      • crisostomo_ibarra_the3rd

        He is not only an idiot. He is an ignoramus.

      • JK1000

        Are you that stupid ? ” It was an accident” The Philippine Coast Guard warned the ship captain not to go to that area,instead the U.S. Navy captain told the PCG ” tO GO TO THE U.S. EMBASSY IN MANILA TO FILE A COMPLAIN” before the incedent.

      • Joe Kano

        There has been no report that the Coast Guard warned the Guardian.
        There has only been a report that park rangers gave a warning.
        That report is very doubtful, and may soon be discredited.

      • haybuhay69

        there was a video oof the rangers talking to the Guardian before the accident. It was shown on tv for days after the accident. so this is not new.

        Aids to navigation? the US Navy, who boasts of advanced technology and even uses Discovery channel and history to show their future weapons cannot find a reef in the ocean? Come on. You can do better than that. Even if the govt. gave you maps of the area, you wouldn’t use it anyway

      • Joe Kano

        The video showed the rangers talking after daybreak, when the ship was already stuck.
        The accident occurred hours before, in the middle of the night.

      • crisostomo_ibarra_the3rd

        These complaining flips are part of the instant wise men who creates stories just to be in the news. They probably think they can dupe people all the time.

      • Joe Kano

        And aids to navigation are needed by ALL vessels, genius.

      • Ameer Suyan

        pare you are right.It took them decades to get Osama Ben Laden despite their advance technology and logistics…and worst of all the Viet Congs chased them out to the sea..lock,stock and barrel !!!!!

      • crisostomo_ibarra_the3rd

        Well, people are entitled to speculate. Let them speculate what ever other flat nosed flips claimed to have said. Bottomline is fine was set based on actual survey of the damage done in accordance to what the Philippine law said. End of story, If these flips still want to complain, then they can go to the US embassy to complain. While they are there, check their bags and you will find their fake paperwork applying for a US visa.

    • Crazy_horse101010

      besides the blasting that is going on now i can remember being in leyete right after they built the bridge from leyte to samar i wanted to cross but couldnt because the fisherman damaged it from blasting and the had to repair. i was told a week ago they are worried about a gas pipeline in the ocean near palawan was going to be damaged by blasting . they found a fishing boat a couple of weeks ago loaded with dynamite near cebu and i can still hear the blasting near me

  • akramgolteb

    Ano naman ang fine na sisingilin sa mga mangingisda na nag cyanide & dynamite fishing na mas malaki pa sa 2345 sgmtrs na damage? Ayon sa UN report na linabas din sa Inquirer , ang pinaka sanhi ng damage ng mga reef sa Pilipinas (+90% na ang namamatay na reef) ay ang destructive fishing methods. Puro seminar lang ang binibigay sa mga mangingisda at wala namang ginagawang hakbang laban sa mga politiko nilang mga amo.

  • BatangSingapore

    siempre malaki na ang $1.4 million sa bulsa ni Songco.

    ang puntos ay saan nya gagamitin ang 1.4 milyon na yan, ni hindi yata marunong lumangoy ang hepe na yan hahahhahahahha. at malamang walang alam sa marine biology ang hitad na yan.

    • williamarthur

      Sungco is a licensed SCUBA Diver (at the very least a DIVE MASTER) and has MS in Environmental Management at University of LEEDS in UK, kung sino ka man BatangSingapore, you don’t know her role way back 20 years ago kung papaano naprotektahan ang Tubbataha Reefs kahit wala pang government intervention. You are not familiar with how Tubbataha Reef is managed, so don’t insinuate that the money would go into her pocket, she even periodically shells out her own money way back then para lang matustusan ang protection ng TR.

      • Joe Kano

        She is no doubt well-educated. Which makes her arrogant public conduct all the more deplorable.

      • JK1000

        Moron ! you shows more less decency than her.

      • Joe Kano

        I’ll bet you really do look like that.

      • BatangSingapore

        hahahahahha and so am I.

        sa pinas pa napaka dali masdabi ng ganito at ganyan pero zero naman talaga.

        ganunpaman, tandaan mo at pakisabi mo kay Songco na kapag may kokolektahin sya ay kailangan nya ipaalam sa publiko saan at paano niya ito gagamitin.

        kung sadyang siya ay may alam sa marine biology ay dapat nilahad niya ito. hindi yun titirada ka lang ng bayad ng ganito at ganyan subalit blanko at papaano niya ito aalagaan hahahhahahaha. she sounds like a negosyante na nagkakanda laiti sumingil ng pera. hehehehhehe

        protektahan ba kamo kaya pala may nasadsad na barko. lokohin nyo lelong nyong panot.

      • williamarthur

        You can get a financial statement of TRNP after each year end and you will see how the money was used…the problem with people who reside outside Palawan, esp those who have not visited there, is that many don’t have any idea how things are done there. Palawan is its own little country and is very different from the stereotypical Philippines. And time and again, TRNP is the best managed Marine protected area in PH. It is not the fault of TRNP management that the ship struck the reef there…Songco told everything she knows but INQ just have to edit it for the article to be concise…well sa Pinas madaling magsabi ng ganito ganyan, but you can google her and see her credentials if you really doubt her capability to do her job…visit TRNP and it will surely change your life for the better dude…di ka na magiging bitter…

  • Oliver82

    Protection of our Marine Environment starts with us Filipinos.

    • Joe Kano

      Ang totoo.

  • JK1000

    It just now that U.S. media carry the news about this shameful incedent caused by arrogant U..S. Navy captain. CNN was reporting that the Philippine Coast Guard ship many times asked the U.S. Naval ship to retreat but the U.S. ship even told the PCG ” Go to U.S. Embassy in Manila and complain” during their radio exchanges between
    the two.Typical arrogant drunk bastards.

    • Joe Kano

      Are you sure? What if that’s not true?

      • JK1000

        Bobo ka ba? Nakapunta ka lang sa states ya nakalimutan mo kung sino ka?

      • Joe Kano

        Nakakainis ka talaga. Bobito.

      • Crazy_horse101010

        he was there and knows everything another armchair expert haw haw haw

    • AlexanderAmproz

      This is the sad true,
      but what do you think about the hundreds hectares of corrals daily destroyed right under Coast Guards noses, while they are turning blinds involved eyes on “officials business”?
      None Pinoy’s will trust and care the Coast Guards, at fortiory not the US ignoring they where using a bogus map in a bogus country…

      Spit in the air, it will fall on your face,
      a basic logic !

    • MC M

      CNN has reported on the incident regularly since January and its easy to find.

  • AlexanderAmproz

    How many hundreds hectares are DAILY DESTROYED by the politicians sponsored dynamite fishings and illegal loggings ?

    Environment destructions rage is amazing among the Pinoy’s themselves,
    at least the US didn’t did it on purposes.

    Today Philippines is a human and Nature wreck thanks the Clergy, Dynasties, Trapos, High Officials and “elites” corruptions success !

    Filipino’s best enemies are Pinoy’s, thanks a thick entertained greed and ignorance hidden behind unlimited arrogances and killings habits !.

  • The Legally Inclined

    Why only PhP60M or USD1.4M?

    The Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009 says:

    I. under Rule 21 that there are 2 payments payable for damage done: 1. for the actual damage done which shall not be less than PhP12,000.00 per square meters, and 2. for the cost of restoration which shall not be less than 12,000.00 per square meter, or as may be determined by the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board. How was the cost of restoration determined so early? It seems that re reparation costs, the TPAMB can impose a higher amount than 12,000/sqm; and
    II. under Rule 33 that entry without permission from the TPAMB shall be subject to a fine between PhP100,000.00 and PhP300,000.00.

    While Section 31 of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009 (RA 10067) says that “in case the vessel used in violation of this Act is foreign owned, the fine shall be thrice the maximum amount imposed for the offense committed”.

    In using the above formulae, the amount payable would be much more than PhP60M or USD1.4M.

  • Riel Aquino Gonzales

    Whatever happens, only pay for Tubbataha in kind…not cash! Not to be pessimistic but I’m pretty sure someone’s already brewing some scheming somewhere.

  • joboni96

    1. huliin mga imperialist u.s. navy

    2. get avenger as evidence
    recycle to philippine navy

    3. $5 million fine

    4. official apology from imperialist

    5. scrap BWISITING forces agreement

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