Tubbataha waits for US payment

By Rhodina Villanueva, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 26 2014 08:21 AM | Updated as of Apr 26 2014 04:27 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The US government has not yet paid compensation for the damage done to the Tubbataha Protected Area 15 months ago.

Angelique Songco, Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) officer-in-charge, said yesterday that time is running out and that compensation for the damage caused by the USS Guardian must immediately be made.

“This should be given attention now, or else we are left with nothing but damage to our protected area,” she said.

US officials have explained that they have not yet received a demand for compensation from Manila, apparently because of a case filed by a Philippine group with the Supreme Court in connection with the accident.

The country has only nine months left, given that monetary claims such as in this case should be worked out within two years since the time of the accident, she added.

Songco said Malacañang’s legal office has written her verifying the amount of compensation that the US government had to make.

She had written a reply confirming that the US government must pay a fine of $1.5 million for the damage that the minesweeper USS Guardian had caused to Tubbataha Reef, a declared World Heritage site, she added.

As early as April 2013, the TMO has already written the US government through the US embassy to follow up on the demand for compensation, but no amount to be used for Tubbataha’s rehabilitation has been paid yet, Songco said.

The Guardian damaged more than 2,300 square meters of Tubbataha after crashing into the reef on Jan. 17, 2013.

The shipwreck had to be removed piece by piece to prevent further destruction to the reef.