For 2,345 square meters damage of coral reef as a collateral result of the stucking of the American minesweeper USS Guardian for more than 2 months from January 17 to March 29 at the Tubbataha Reef, a fish and marine life sanctuary and UNESCO Heritage Protected Site, a 10-hour flight from Puerto Princesa, Palawan, the Philippine government is requesting damage compensation in the amount of 58 million pesos ($1.4 million) from the US government.
The amount is lawful and based on studies by concerned Philippine agencies including the coast guard. They found that only 2,345 square meters of the protected Tubbataha Reef sustained damages
We don’t want to be dishonest. It is just a simple process; measure it correctly and then they pay. That is all. It is very straightforward, park superintendent Angelique Songco told AFP.
he said a letter would be sent to the US embassy, stressing this is the amount required by a law passed to protect the reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site in a remote area of the Sulu Sea.
Earlier estimates put the damage at 4,000 square metres of the reef but Songco said their studies found the damage was less than expected.
The incident stirred national sentiments with demands that the United States pay a large amount of compensation for damaging the reef, but Songco said they would only ask for the amount based on the affected area.
“I am not worried about criticism (for the small amount). We are not trying to put one over them and we hope they will do the same with us,” she said.
All of the salvage ships had left Tubbataha but a team of US Navy divers and a US vessel remained in the area, assessing the damage, said Songco.
The United States has apologised for the mishap and has said it would cooperate in addressing the damage.
Aside from apologising for the accident, the US Navy said in a statement Saturday that they don’t want to speculate about their liability, but would coordinate with the Philippine government to assess the damage to the reef.
The commanding officer and three crew of the USS Guardian were sacked over the grounding and were transferred to another US Navy minesweeper, according to the US Navy command