Trump Jr. comment 'offline', says Coast Guard official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2013 08:53 PM | Updated as of Feb 01 2013 04:53 AM

MANILA -- The US Navy has been very cooperative in the salvage operations of the USS Guardian at the Tubbataha Reef in Palawan, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) assured Thursday.

PCG commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena said US forces were extremely embarrassed after the vessel ran aground the World Heritage site, causing damages to about 1,500 to 1,600 square meters of the coral reef.

He also said the comment of Donald Trump Jr. that the USS Guardian is more important than a section of the reef that has already been run over was definitely "offline," considering that the US Navy has repeatedly expressed regret over the incident.

In his Twitter account, the son of real estate mogul Donald Trump also blasted the decision of the US government to pay cleanup costs.

"Talaga pong offline 'yung comment na 'yun. In fact, 'yung US forces ay talagang very embarrassed and sorry dun sa nangyari. Kaya nga talagang nakikipagtulungan sila ng husto para 'di na talaga madagdagan 'yung sira ng reef natin," Isorena told radio dzMM.

"Very cooperative po sila sa lahat ng operasyon natin. Iisa lang naman ang goal namin...na 'di na madagdagan ang sira ng reef," he added.

US Navy to start dismantling ship

The US Navy-led salvage team is now waiting for the arrival of high-lifting crane ships from Singapore for the dismantling of the USS Guardian.

Isorena said they decided to break the vessel into pieces to prevent further damage to the World Heritage site.

However, they are still studying how the salvage vessels will be positioned around the damaged ship.

"Ang problema po 'yung positioning ng salvage vessels kasi 'di sila pwedeng dumikit sa reef, baka maka-damage pa."

He said the duration of the salvage operations would also still be dependent on the weather conditions.

"Basta as fast as we can na matanggal 'yung USS Guardian...'yun ang ultimate goal," he said.

Meantime, Isorena said the PCG has yet to conduct an investigation into what really caused the USS Guardian to run aground the Tubbataha Reef.

"Inuumpisahan pa lang po namin 'yung imbestigasyon kasi ang naging focus ng operasyon ng phil coast guar ay uanng una yung oil polution...na hindi magkaroon ng oil spill," he said.