Friday, February 1, 2013

US Navy ship running aground in the Tubbataha Reef

Malacanang said the Philippine government is determined to press its claim for the damage caused by a US Navy ship running aground in the Tubbataha Reef last week.

In a press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Department of Foreign Affairs will discuss the country's claims with US officials after the US Navy ship is removed from the Tubbataha Reef.

"The DFA will be the lead agency in discussing this matter with their US counterparts," Lacierda said about the Philippine claim for damages.

As of the moment, however, Lacierda said the prime consideration is removing the naval ship from the area before Philippine and US official discuss compensation.

"Nag-usap kami ni (We have already discussed this with) Secretary Albert del Rosario. Do not be worried about our claims. We have the law. We will enforce the law," he said.

"This is a national treasure and a world heritage site and, therefore, it is important to us. It is precious to us. But, you must remember, the primary consideration right now is to remove the ship from the reef," Lacierda added noting any salvage operation must ensure minimal damage to the reefs.

The President's instruction is to prioritize taking the ship out with minimal damage to the reefs, he said. Lacierda added that the President is concerned with the situation on the reefs.

Asked by reporters whether the 1,000 square meters of damaged to the reefs is significant, the Palace official said: "It's a damage to a world heritage site. It's a damage to our natural resources. It's a damage to an important site. We cannot but put emphasis on the importance of this reef as a heritage site."

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