Saturday, February 14, 2015
MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today welcomed the news that the US Government has already paid the Philippine Government the full amount of Php87,033,570.71 as compensation for the damage caused by the USS Guardian when it ran aground on Tubbataha Reef.
“It is great news that the US government has finally given full compensation for the damages to the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I am also happy that they will be providing assistance to the Philippine Coast Guard in upgrading its substation in Tubbataha,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
“The greater challenge now is the successful rehabilitation of the damaged portions of the Tubbataha Reef. We know that it would take longer time for the Reef to fully recover and for the productive area to flourish again. Now that the fund is available, we are confident that the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB) and the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) would be able to carry out all the necessary actions to rehabilitate and further protect the Reef,” she added.
“We hope that the Tubbataha Reef incident would not happen again and that it would further highlight 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,” Legarda stressed.
On January 17, 2013, after completing its port of call in Subic, Olongapo City, the mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian ran aground on Tubbataha Reef while en route to its next port of call in Indonesia. The tragedy damaged 2,345.67 square meters of the reef area.