MANILA (Mabuhay) — The Philippines has received P87.03 million from the United States for the damage caused to Tubbataha Reef by the minesweeper USS Guardian in 2013, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.
In a statement, the DFA said the Philippine government received P87,033,570.71 compensation from the US last Jan. 20.
“The compensation will be utilized for the protection and rehabilitation of Tubbataha Reef Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Portions of the fund will also be used to further enhance capability to monitor the area and prevent similar incidents in the future,” the DFA said.
Aside from the compensation, the US government will provide added assistance to the Philippine Coast Guard to upgrade the Coast Guard substation in Tubbataha.
On Jan. 17, 2013, USS Guardian ran aground at the South Atoll of the Tubbataha Reef, damaging at least 2,345.67 square meters of the reef area.
Salvage crews needed 10 weeks to haul away pieces of the USS Guardian.
In October 2014, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the US agreed to pay P87 million for the damage to Tubbataha Reef.
Tubbataha Management Office park manager Angelique Songco said the amount would cover both the P58.4-million fine imposed by the Philippine government for the restoration of the marine park and the expenses of the Philippine Coast Guard during the salvage operations.
Tubbataha is a World Heritage Site in Palawan, and is one of the top scuba diving destinations globally.(MNS)