US Help Welcome, but Fines Will Still Be Assessed - Palace
MANILA, Philippines --- Malacanang welcomed yesterday the US government's promise to provide funds for coral restoration efforts at the Tubbataha Reef, but fines and penalties will still be assessed for the damage caused by the grounded US Navy vessel.
Over the weekend, the US Embassy said it will be provide $100,000, or P4.1 million, for coral restoration research of the Tubbataha Reef after the US minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef in January
"Certainly, we have seen their commitment to preserving the reef as part of their previous efforts and certainly, these are acknowledgment of the importance of the richness of the biodiversity that is found in Tubbataha Reef," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing yesterday.
The Palace official however clarified that the compensation will be apart from the fines that will be paid by the US government for the damage to the reef.
He said the amount of fines that will be imposed will be based on the final assessment on the damage caused to the reef.
"We're waiting for a final assessment dive which will happen only after the ship has been extricated from the reef," Lacierda said.
"They are going to do that over and above the fines that we are going to impose based on the law that we have in place," he said.
Lacierda meanwhile said the Philippine government has not imposed any deadline on the extrication of the ship.
"The instruction is as soon as possible. Certainly, you don't want to create further damage so it has to be done meticulously but at the soonest possible time," he said.
"That is our preference and I think that is being done also," he said.
The US team in charge of extricating the ship is looking at disassembling the vessel part by part instead of extricating it all at once.
Meanwhile, the United States government is planning a number of other activities which will underscore its commitment to the recovery of the World Heritage Site and also the conservation and protection of the marine resources of the country.
The US Embassy said that it will organize in the next two weeks roundtable meetings with local coral reef conservation experts to listen to concerns and discuss options for conservation and restoration of the Tubbataha Reef.
To be invited are such entities as the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), relevant Philippine government agencies, and the Tubbataha Management Office. …