MANILA - President Aquino said the United States (US) government has committed not only to pay compensation for the damage caused by the grounding the USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef but also to assist in the rehabilitation of the reef.
Aquino told reporters that he has met with Rear Admiral Thomas Carney, the commander of the US Navy’s Logistics Group in the Western Pacific, and US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas who conveyed the US government's commitment.
One measure being considered by the US is to post volunteers from the Peace Corps in the area to assist in the rehabilitation effort.
“It was Ambassador Thomas who said that they are not just gonna compensate us in terms of paying the necessary fines, but they are also envisioning how to assist the rehabilitation of Tubbataha to include posting parang Peace Corps volunteers to the area to accelerate the rehabilitation of the reef,” Aquino said.
Meantime, Aquino said Transporation and Communications Secretary Jun Abaya will be presenting to him the details of the plan to salvage the ship.
Asked if the government is open to applying other international conventions to seek a higher fine from the US government, Aquino said this is being studied by the relevant agencies, including the Department of Justice, Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Transportation and Communications.
“‘Yung are we open to checking (possible conventions), this is being studied intensely by the council that governs Tubbataha, by our Secretary of Justice, by the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Transportation and Communications which under whose auspices the Coast Guard exists,” he said.