Officials seek fines for reef damage by USS Guardian
MANILA, Philippines — Tubbataha Reef Parks officials aired the hope, on Sunday, that the US Navy would pay the “appropriate fine” for the damage to the reef caused by the Jan. 17 grounding of the USS Guardian.
After salvors lifted the last remaining section of the USS Guardian Saturday afternoon, park officials and marine experts prepared to move in to assess the damage to the site declared a World Heritage by the UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
“This is not the first grounding incident in the park — all previous cases paid the appropriate fines for damage. We will not ask for anything more than what the law requires,” Tubbataha Reefs park superintendent Angelique Songco said in a statement issued by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Songco said parks officials wished that the US Navy would be “responsible enough when entering our protected areas” but expressed confidence it would “honor the rule of law.”
Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office said: “We maintain that there must be accountability and we will enforce our existing laws. We will adopt needed measures to prevent repetition.”
Citing the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009, WWF said a fine of about $300 or P12,000 per square meter would be mandatory, plus another $300 or so per square meter for rehabilitation efforts. If the damaged area covers 4000 square meters, total fines might exceed $5 million or P200 million, according to the WWF. /INQUIRER
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