Palace OKs $1.4-M fine on US Navy for ship grounding at Tubbataha Reef


MANILA, Philippines—Ruling out any diplomatic protest, Malacañang expressed satisfaction with the $1.4-million or P60-million assessed fine on the US Navy whose ship grazed the Tubbataha Reef on Jan. 17.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Sunday the fine assessed by the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) on the US Navy was in compliance with Republic Act 10067, or the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009.

“The amount as assessed by the Tubbataha Management Office is in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 10067 which serves as the basis for the fine,” Valte said in a text message.

A team of divers and researchers from the TMO and the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines measured the damaged area at 2,345.67 square meters, smaller than the 4,000 square meters estimated by an American team.

Under the law, a fine of $600 or P24,000 per square meter of damaged reef is mandatory, and together with further park rule violations, this added up to $1.4 million.

The fine paled in comparison with the estimated $45-million salvage operation, and was but a “slap on the wrist,” observed Tubbataha park superintendent Angelique Songco, who said the letter requesting compensation would be forwarded to the US Embassy this week.

But WWF-Philippines vice chairman and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan said the fine should help the TMO “build a significant endowment fund to sustain its operations through the years.”

Salvors extricated the last major section of the 68-meter Guardian, which was cut into pieces to avoid further damage to the reef, on March 30.

Valte ruled out the filing of a diplomatic protest against the United States over the grounding of the minesweeper in the World Heritage Site.

“A diplomatic protest may be unnecessary at this point given that the United States has been cooperating with our maritime investigation and has committed to the compensation and rehabilitation of the reef,” she said.

The US Navy has relieved USS Guardian commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice, as well as the executive officer and navigator, the assistant navigator, and the officer of the deck.

All four were reassigned to Expeditionary Strike Group 7 headquarters in Sasebo, Japan.

The US warship hit the upper side of the South Atoll, one of the two main atolls comprising the Tubbataha Reef, at dawn of January 17, while en route to Indonesia.

The ship is part of the US naval fleet stationed in Japan, which docked at the former American naval base in Subic Bay for routine refueling, resupply and rest and recreation.

It was scheduled to make a brief stop at Puerto Princesa before heading off to its next port call in India when it grazed the reef and got stuck 128 kilometers off Palawan.

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  • $18209031

    Who’s to know if theres really money involved ? This could only be lipservice and intangible. There should be a committee to monitor the money transfer and the use of that money . Or vultures can just divert it to something else.

    • BIGButo

      The USA should subtract the 1.4 Million from the annual aide the Philippines get every year

    • Crazy_horse101010

      go to washington and ask them are you getting a share of it

      • giltor

        horse patoot

        OK, I will.

        Gotta get the next plane to SEATTLE!

      • dodong1

        if you only go to seattle you will never make it to washington dc where the white house and capitol is located.which i think that what crazy horse want you to do….washington dc is in the state of Maryland in the east coast…

      • giltor


        Your warning came too late.

        TOO BAD, I’m halfway to Bellingham now, just north of SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, AC (After Canada) not DC. ;))

        Just kidding. Note my post with emphasis on SEATTLE with all caps.

        I’m having a long feud with that crazy asinine pos, who’s claiming a lot of things he’s not. The latest claim is that he has descended from Ukrainian origin, most probably from Ukrainian blood sausage. Also I detest his constant use of the slur word ‘flippino’ :((

        So, it was just a taunt in reply to his dare to go to Washington, without specifying which WASHINGTON.

        I don’t have a desire to go to the BLACK house with ‘brick’ obummer in there nor to the capitol where dingy harry is.

      • dodong1

        got it..

      • giltor


        I know you would.

      • BIGButo

        No it is not. it is in Washington, D.C. Not Maryland

      • dodong1

        Washington, D.C. is technically a district and is not located in any one state. It is on the Potomac River and is bordered by Maryland and Virginia.

    • crisostomo_ibarra_the3rd

      Geez, for US$1.4M you are even advocating a committee? Baka pambayad sa committee members pa lang kulangin na yang pera. Hamo na sa TMO ang pera. Gastusin nila ayon sa nakasaad sa charter nila. Trabaho na ng COA na busisiin ang pera ng bayan. Wag ka ng makisawsaw pa.

  • Loggnat

    $1.4 M fine when the US Navy spent more or less $45M in removing the the dang ship out of the reef. The US Navy is probably kicking their south-end for spending that much when the Philippine government seemingly does not put that much value or importance to the Tubataha Reef as deduced from the miniscule fine they are asking them. :)) I thought $10M will be a bargain for the rehabilitation, continued observation, and conservation of the Reef.

    • Graymatter28

      Try to ask China to pay for poaching and scraping the seafloor off Scarborough Shoal for years and years and let’s see how they respond. More likely, they would say: You can kiss my red @ss. That is called self-respect. lolz

    • Crazy_horse101010

      yeah compared to the 4000 dollars green peace for damaging the same reef they were supposed to protect. no one puts any values on any reefs here with 75 percent already destroyed and another 25 percent damaged. by dynamite or cyanide. of course these reefs are closer to home and visited by more divers or were visited by more divers. come down south and save whats left. pick any island from leyte to palawan. america knows flippinos are destroying their own reefs., im surprised they paid anything .

      • giltor

        horsey patoot

        Another unbelievable tall tale coming out from your rear orifice!


        there’s a term for that – BALASUBAS!

        The total damaged and destroyed should be 110% including the boom boom made by YOURSELF under the loo in your shanty as a self-described sEXPLOSIVE EXPERT with ED.

        Huh – self-hating flippino (your terminology, NOT MINE)!

    • crisostomo_ibarra_the3rd

      So ano ang solution na gusto mong iparating? Sabihin mo sa senado at sa congressmen na amyendahan nila ang batas na ipapatupad ng pamahalaan. Alam mo naman siguro na ang batayan ng US$1.4 M fine ay ang Republic Act 10067 or the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009. Kung gusto mo tanungin mo si GMA kung bakit hindi sya nag veto sa mababang halaga ng rate on fine.

      • Loggnat

        The law is beside the point. The damage assessment is everything and only thing that should be used to base the amount of fine. Damage rehabilitation does not come or show result immediately or is possible in short length of time. Assessment should include several years of observation and several methods of rehabilitation and preservation plus projected economic loss of the people relying in the fishing and tourist trade in the surrounding area if not within the reserve itself. Maybe even add in it an improved boundary marking utilizing state of the art beacons and marker buoys that can be placed around the Tubataha Reserve to avoid a repetition of this kind of incident. While they are at it, they should install an improved means of anchoring diver’s boats which are in use inside the J. Pennekamp Reserve here in Key Largo. It provides anchoring buoys in specific area where snorkeling and scuba diving are allowed instead of dropping anchors which can damage the reef when dragged. It also control and restrict which area will be accessible and where divers will cause less damage instead of giving unrestricted access throughout the reserve specially in critically sensitive areas where intrusion by divers can cause irreparable damage to the ecosystem of the reef.

      • crisostomo_ibarra_the3rd

        What? The law is beside the point kamo? Para saan pa ang law kung hindi naman ito ipatutupad. Dapat na veto na lang ni GMA ang law na yan nang ipinasa ito ng congreso noong 2009? Dapat ko bang ipaalala sa yo na we are the government of laws and not of men?

      • Loggnat

        If the damage per sq. will cost more than $600.00, will you limit your amount of the fine to that amount? The law is $600.00 per sq. m. minimum/mandatory and it is only common sense that if the cost is more based on the assessment and evaluation of damage then the fine should be what the cost it will require to rehabilitate per sq. meter of the reef. Since when did the Philippines enforced its laws the proper way it is supposed to be enforced. And who is the best judge on how much is needed to rehabilitate the damaged reef than the people whose job is to take care of the reef and not some law passed by a group of politicians that more than likely the majority of which have never been to the Tubataha Reef Reserve. Your mention of government of laws and not of men rings hollow and sounds like sarcasm to me.

      • crisostomo_ibarra_the3rd

        Alam mo kaya na ang TMO ang ahensyang responsible sa issue na ito. At alam mo kaya na ang TMO ang nagtalaga ng halagang $1.4M para sa pinsala ayon sa batas Republic Act 10067. Ngayong mas matalino ka pa kaysa sa TMO at kay Enrile at Nograles na pumirma sa final law at pinirmahan ni GMA bilang head ng executive department, bakit hindi ka kaya magpaappoint sa SC para ideklara mong unconstitutional ang batas na hindi ka sangayon dahil kulang ang itinalaga nilang penalty.

      • Loggnat

        Did you ran out of valid and believable answer so you started attacking me personally? If you can’t convincingly explain your side just zip it because it is showing your lack of capability and comprehension on the subject matter. :)))

      • crisostomo_ibarra_the3rd

        I am not attacking you personally, I am simply telling the truth how ignoramus some people can be.

  • Janch

    Amend the law!

  • disqusted0fu

    The PH loses about P40 million a year in smuggling, but for them the BOC is still doing a good job. The Aquino government doesn’t care much for losses of the PH, they only care about their personal gains, and $1.4M should be enough for them.

  • BIGButo

    What should we do with the Chinese fishing ship that hit the reef today. Are we going to fine then too.

    • Loggnat

      Definitely! Fine them and charge them of bribery and poaching but maybe just charge them of attempted poaching. They did not have the chance to fish in the area before their fishing vessel got stuck in the reef. :))

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