Palace: PH 'not reluctant' to press claim vs US

By Willard Cheng,

Posted at Jan 23 2013 05:40 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2013 01:41 AM

MANILA - Malacañang dismissed accusations that the Philippine government is not serious in filing claims for damages against the United States government after its Navy ship ran aground and damaged the Tubbataha Reef.

“Do not be worried about our claims. We have the law. We will enforce the law… This is a national treasure and a world heritage site and therefore it is important to us, it is precious to us,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.  

Lacierda said the priority now is to remove the ship and ensure that no further damage will be caused during the process.

“The paramount responsibility right now of the task force is to take away the ship. This is not to mean that we are minimizing or reluctant to press our claim,” he said.  

Approximately 1,000 square meters of the reef was reportedly damaged due to the incident.

“It’s a damage to the world heritage site. It’s a damage to our natural resource. It’s a damage to an important site. We cannot but emphasize the importance of this reef as a heritage site. The instruction of the President is very, very clear: Let’s make sure, first priority, let’s take out the ship. And let’s take out the ship with minimal damage,” Lacierda said.