Loren wants probe on Tubbataha damage
MANILA, Philippines - Senator Loren Legarda filed a resolution urging her colleagues to investigate the damage done to the Tubbataha Reef due to the grounding of a United States Navy minesweeper.
"A full investigation should be conducted by concerned agencies in order to strengthen existing mechanisms for protecting the World Heritage Site. Republic Act 10067, the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act, clearly states that any damage to the reef shall subject the responsible person or entity to the payment of administrative fines set by the [management] based on current valuation standards, as well as the cost of restoration. As such, those responsible for the damage on the Tubbataha Reef should own up and pay up," she said.
Legarda, who is the head of the committee on foreign relations, said there should be full disclosure and accounting of the total damages. “This incident highlights the need to ensure full protection of the Philippines' marine resources by all vessels, foreign or domestic, within territorial waters amidst geo-political developments in the region.”
On January 17, after completing its port of call in Subic, Olongapo City, the mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian reportedly ran aground on Tubbataha reef while en route to its next port of call in Indonesia.
She said she received information that the personnel of the minesweeper did not coordinate with the managers of the protected area.
"We have received reports that the personnel of the US Navy ship failed to coordinate closely with the personnel of the protected area even as their ship had already destroyed an estimated 10 meters of corals,” she said.