US awaits PH request for compensation for reef damage

The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 15 2014 02:42 AM | Updated as of Jan 15 2014 10:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The US government is waiting for a request from Manila for compensation after a US warship ran aground and damaged Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea on Jan. 17 last year, America's top diplomat in Manila said yesterday.

The USS Guardian damaged about 4,000 square meters of the World Heritage Site and Washington will reportedly be slapped a fine of P59.3 million.

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, however, said yesterday his government has not yet received a request from Manila for specific compensation, apparently because of pending legal cases in connection with the incident.

“We’re sorry that it happened. We’ve apologized and regretted what happened many, many times and continue to do so,” Goldberg told The STAR yesterday.

He stressed that they have been transparent about their efforts to address the issue and did their best to remove the ship without further damage to the reef.

“We’re waiting for the government to give us that proposal (for compensation),” Goldberg added. “We’re just waiting.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has explained that it would wait for the Supreme Court to resolve a petition for a writ of kalikasan filed against USS Guardian officers before formally seeking compensation from Washington.

The petitioners described the DFA’s position as “unfortunate.”