PH will have say in extricating ship in Tubbataha

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Jan 29 2013 01:38 PM | Updated as of Jan 29 2013 09:38 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The country, led by the Philippine Coast Guard, will have to approve the salvage plan that the United States Navy will implement in extricating the minesweeper that flattened a portion of the Tubbataha Reef.

In a press conference in Palawan, the Task Force Tubbataha said members of the US Navy will be presenting their plan tomorrow before the coastguard and other stakeholders.

The taskforce said this will ensure that no damage will be further done to the World Heritage site.

USS Guardian, the 68-meter minesweeper, ran aground at the Tubbataha Reef last January 17.

A salvor sent by the US Navy has already removed the bulk of fuel oil and materials that could pose environmental risks.

The taskforce said they are consistently monitoring and taking samples. “There is no contamination…The threat of oil spill is gone.”

The taskforce said patrols are ongoing and additional personnel were deployed to help the park rangers to ensure that the damage won’t be aggravated.

They said the only factor now affecting salvage works there is the weather or sea condition. “Everybody wants to do this as fast as we can, but there are factors that affect the phase of the operations.”

The Philippines is seeking damages, with President Benigno Aquino III saying that apologies from the US Navy would not simply do. He said they are “not exempt…from having to comply with our laws.”