[EARLIER PHOTO -Navy: USS Guardian to be dismantled after running aground on Philippines' Tubbataha Reef]

MANILA, FEBRUARY 4, 2013 (PHILSTAR) (Xinhua) -- The United States committed today to give P4.1 million for the coral restoration efforts of the Philippines following the recent grounding of the USS Guardian at the Tubbataha Reef in Sulu Sea.

"In view of damage caused by the USS Guardian accident at Tubbataha Reef, the United States has expressed its regrets and is prepared to provide appropriate compensation to the Republic of the Philippines," a statement released today by the US Embassy in Manila read

According to the latest assessment by the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, over 4,000 square meters of the coral in the park was damaged by the Guardian, which belongs to the Seventh Fleet of US Navy.

"Through USAid's (US Agency for International Development) Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP), P4.1 million ($100,000) will be granted to a Philippine university to support coral restoration research at Tubbataha Reef," the embassy said.

It is said that the amount will cover a study to develop a technical plan for coral reef rehabilitation. At the same time, the US government also planned to offer to fund a site survey for proposed improvements to the existing ranger station on Tubbataha Reef.

"In addition to compensation, the U.S. government is planning a number of other activities which will underscore its commitment to Tubbataha's recovery and the protection of the marine resources of the Philippines," it added.

The USS Guardian ran aground at the Tubbataha Reef, a Unesco World Heritage Site, on Jan. 17, after a port call at the Subic Bay in the northern part of the Philippines.

Philippine President Aquino dared to penalize US Navy for Tubbataha damage

US minesweeper USS Guardian damaged Philippine Reef

by Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) Friday Feb 1st, 2013 2:19 AM

The Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) dared President Aquino to relentlessly pursue his declaration that, despite the apology issued for the reckless grounding of an American ship on Tubbataha Reef, the US Navy has undoubtedly violated Philippine laws and therefore must be meted out with appropriate punishment.

Responding to media questions on whether the apology was already enough, Aquino, in a surprisingly I’m-not-a-US-puppet-posturing, was quoted as saying: “that doesn’t exempt them from having to comply with our laws … Excuse me, may nasira sa amin, eh. Gano’n na lang ba ’yon? (we suffered damage. Do we leave it at that?)”

Straight from a tearjerker script, the statement attributed to Vice Admiral Scott H. Swift, commander of the US 7th Fleet, reads: “As a protector of the sea and a sailor myself, I greatly regret any damage this incident has caused to the Tubbataha Reef.”

However, the said “incident” on Jan. 17 was described as a “rude intrusion” of the US minesweeper USS Guardian, which, before it ran aground, was duly warned by the Tubbataha Park rangers that it did not have permission to enter the protected marine site as mandated by Republic Act No. 10067 or the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009.

The Tubbataha rangers reported that they were ignored by the USS Guardian and they backed out from following it when the sailors assumed “battle positions.”

Maybe due to brusqueness of the USS Guardian’s skippers and in spite of the much vaunted American Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and other navigation technologies, the 68-meter ship’s hull still stuck on the reef.

Initial assessment has placed the damage at about 1,000 square meters of invaluable coral reef, which takes about 10,000 years to recover as corals need close to 10 years to grow just an inch. Environmentalists are worried that the destruction could worsen the longer the ship remains stranded. It is still stuck in Tubbataha after almost two weeks now.

The Tubbataha National Marine Park is located in the Sulu Sea, 98 nautical miles (181 km) southeast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan province. A protected marine sanctuary with an area of almost 970 square kilometers, the huge reefs in Tubbataha are teeming with rich marine wildlife and resources; it is home to more than 1,000 marine species, many are deemed endangered. It was also declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in December 1993.

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File:USS Guardian being struck by a wave while aground.jpg

SULU SEA (Jan. 29, 2013) Heavy waves crash against the grounded mine countermeasure ship USS Guardian (MCM 5), which ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea on Jan. 17.

The grounding and subsequent heavy waves constantly hitting Guardian have caused severe damage, leading the Navy to determine the 23-year old ship is beyond economical repair and is a complete loss.

With the deteriorating integrity of the ship, the weight involved, and where it has grounded on the reef, dismantling the ship in sections is the only supportable salvage option.

The U.S. Navy continues to work in close cooperation with the Philippine Coast Guard and Navy to safely dismantle Guardian from the reef while minimizing environmental effects.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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