Press Release
January 21, 2013


Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan today says that the United States government is liable to pay damages incurred when their USS Guardian (MCM 5) ran aground on the Philippines protected Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"Apologies are not enough. The damage has been done. Every day that the USS sits on top of our protected reefs is a day too late as far as the damage being done is concerned. We have laws that explicitly express accountability on persons or entities found to have caused damage to the Tubbataha reef."

RA 10067, an act establishing the Tubbataha Reefs as a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act and the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan Act, provides that no person or entity shall enter, enjoy or utilize any portion of the Tubbataha Reefs and Natural Park and the resources therein for whatever purpose without prior permission from the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB). Section 19 says that a violation shall be subject to imprisonment of not less than 6 months but not more than one year of imprisonment and a fine of P100,000 but not more than P300,000 as may be determined by the TPAMB. Section 20 says that damages to the reef shall subject the responsible person or entity to the payment of fines set by TPAMB based on current valuation standards and to the payment of the cost of restoration.

"We urge Philippine government officials to also conduct their own inquiry of the incident and be forthright in discussing the matter with the Filipino public. For what was the US Navy doing in a protected environment? Surely, the technological prowess of a US Naval ship would be able to tell them they were on top of a reef? The TPAMB, together with the Department of Justice, must impose the appropriate penalties for this incursion. Friends who thrash their friends' treasured possessions must be held liable for their actions. The U.S. cannot expect us to bear the damages still being done by their Navy ship."

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