Friday, June 21, 2013

Tubbataha management urges US govt to be 'quicker' in paying $1.4M reef grounding fine

From GMA News (Jun 21): Tubbataha management urges US govt to be 'quicker' in paying $1.4M reef grounding fine

The Tubbataha Management Office called on US authorities Friday to be “quicker” in paying the fines assessed after the USS Guardian ran aground on a section of Tubbataha on January 17 and damaged at least 2,345 square meters of the reef, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Five months after a US Navy minesweeper ran aground the Tubbataha coral reef, the United States government has yet to pay the P58-million ($1.4 million) fine the protected park management had assessed. 

“Actually, hindi pa sila nagbabayad… We have received a letter from the US Embassy saying that they are talking with the national authorities, in this case, DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs). Sabi nila may proseso ng pagclaim,” Tubbataha park superintendent Angelique Songco said: “They should be quicker than they have been," superintendent Songco said.

Songco explained that they have asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to clarify the process but they have yet to receive the DFA reply.

“Hindi namin maintindihan ang proseso. We have the right to know kung ano ang claim process [at kung] ano na ang status… Sabihan niyo kami, hindi kami nagpapa-importante,” she added.

'Lack of leadership'

A report released on Friday (Philippine time) revealed that “lack of leadership” on the USS Guardian led to the grounding of the US warship.

"USS Guardian leadership and watch teams failed to adhere to prudent, safe, and sound navigation principles which would have alerted them to approaching dangers with sufficient time to take mitigating action," said US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Cecil Haney.

Further administrative action is being considered against the ship's crew, the US Navy statement said.

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