This creature has a humble moniker but it’s part of the Philippines’ wondrous wealth in marine life. It’s called the “bubble shark” (because it can puff up to twice its size when threatened), and it’s a brand-new species discovered only last year in the Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor (VIPMC).
I keep reading news reports that our government will demand payment from the United States government for the damage done by the USS Guardian to the Tubbataha Reef.
The steel-hulled Chinese boat that ran aground on Tubbataha Reef on April 8 is still there—and the longer it stays stuck, the more the important questions gain traction.
The act of laying a wreath at the Dambana ng Kagitingan on Mount Samat every year, on the anniversary of the Fall of Bataan, is potent with meaning. The collapse of American and Filipino defenses on the Bataan peninsula in 1942 and the horrific Death March that followed have long formed part of the national narrative; the martyrs of World War II help define our collective sense of nation.
Now that the last piece of the US Navy minesweeper that ran aground on Tubbataha Reef has been removed, the real test of Philippine political will begins: how to extract payment from the United States for the extensive damage the USS Guardian has inflicted on the Unesco World Heritage site.
National outrage followed on the heels of the grounding of a US Navy ship in the south atoll of the Tubbataha Reef National Park (TRNP), off the coast of Puerto Princesa in Palawan. The TRNP is a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) designated by Republic Act No. 7586, also known as the Nipas Act. The TRNP is also a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage site.
The USS Guardian, a minesweeper swept off balance by big waves, ripped a huge portion of our treasured Tubbataha Reef. The US Navy claimed that the accident was due to its “wrong map navigational data.” (Maybe it’s made in China.)
As we headed for the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard, we saw a group of protesters shouting slogans against the Visiting Forces Agreement, and calling for its abolition altogether. The rally was being held in front of the US Embassy. The protesters said they were also protesting the USS Guardian’s destruction of a part of the famous Tubbataha Reef. They said the minesweeper had no business being there, and that the incident showed the United States has been encroaching on Philippine coastal waters.
The USS Guardian is a minesweeper normally deployed in littoral and protected waters either for mine-laying or mine-sweeping. To find this vessel operating in open waters way far from the usual shipping routes is indeed a mystery and invites further scrutiny and speculation.
By Jay L. Batongbacal
The grounding of the USS Guardian in the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park is a veritable showcase of deeply rooted flaws in the Philippines’ marine territorial policies. Obviously, the government’s initial indecision to take action stems from the United States’ status as a treaty ally. Dependence on the US strategic umbrella and the previous [...]
By Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
One of the characters that I thought of after the minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground in and destroyed parts of Tubbataha Reef on Jan. 17 was Nemo, the clownfish who is the object of a transocean search in the blockbuster Walt Disney animated film “Finding Nemo.”