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.
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.
President Aquino’s suspiciously prudent stance on the presence of minesweeper USS Guardian inside Philippine territory pales in comparison to his hysterics over China’s claim to the disputed islands in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). Mr. Aquino’s position further reveals his administration’s inconsistencies in dealing with the issue of sovereignty. He has no qualms to show off that his government’s loyalty and interests are with the US government—to the detriment of Philippine sovereignty and people’s rights.
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.)