Thursday, April 11, 2013

Palace exec: Grounded US, Chinese ships are apple and orange

From GMA News (Apr 11): Palace exec: Grounded US, Chinese ships are apple and orange

Malacañang on Thursday urged the public to quit comparing the two separate grounding incidents of a United States minesweeper and a Chinese fishing vessel in the Tubbataha Reef, saying the two are “completely different."

“I think it’s unfair [to compare.] They are not apples to apples. One is a military ship of an allied country who is here with our permission, involved in our mutual defense; the other is a private fishing vessel, which was here without permission, which was here for commercial reasons,” Presidential Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said at a briefing.

“Clearly, the different natures of these two vessels would necessitate different responses. And I don’t think anyone would argue that you treat one the same way as the other, since they’re completely different circumstances,” he added.

Shortly before midnight Monday, a Chinese fishermen's vessel ran aground in Tubbataha Reef, three months after a similar incident involving the US Navy minesweeper USS Guardian.

The US vessel was finally extracted two weeks ago and four of its crew members were relieved of their duties for failure to follow standard US Navy navigational procedures. The Philippine government, however, has yet to press charges against the ship's sailors.

Meanwhile, the Tubbataha Management Office lodged poaching charges against 12 Chinese fishermen Wednesday afternoon.

However, Carandang reiterated that the government is not playing favorites, as there is an ongoing investigation regarding the USS Guardian’s grounding.

“We have an investigation that is proceeding with the Americans, and there are certain laws and practices that we have to abide by,” Carandang said, although he noted that the government does not believe the American vessel meant to cause damage.

“The goal [of the investigation] is to find out what happened [and] to seek some sort of reparations for the damages that admittedly were incurred. Nobody believes that this was done on purpose so our idea is if something happens then, there are certain processes in place that would ensure or that would provide for the resolution or the reparation in the event of this incident,” Carandang said.

The Philippines may charge the United States 58 million pesos ($1.4 million) in compensation for damage caused by the USS Guardian to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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