Gov’t starts damage assessment on reefs
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has ordered an immediate assessment of the environmental damage on the Tubbataha Reefs after a United States Ship ran aground there Thursday last week.
DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya issued the orders to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) after an emergency meeting Sunday with the PCG and Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).
[“The PCG is ordered] to submit an initial assessment report on the environmental implication of the US Navy minesweeper (USS Guardian) that ran aground on the Tubbataha Reefs in the Sulu Sea, as the Philippines makes a high-level government-to-government communication with the United States on the incident,” the DOTC said in a statement Monday.
“Since the USS Guardian was stuck in the area last Thursday, the PCG has deployed ships in the area to check and contain possible environmental damage on the Tubbataha Reefs,” DOTC said.
Armand Balilo, PCG Spokesman, said that the Coast Guard Action Center had ordered the deployment of marine pollution vessel AE-891 to the area to check for any pollution to the seas.
Abaya had also ordered the PCG to “undertake environmental response operations” such as laying down oil spill booms.
The DOTC said they are still waiting for coordination plans for the eventual removal and towing of the US Ship.