USS Guardian to be removed after damaging World Heritage Site

Removal process of the USS Guardian (MCM5) from Tubbataha Reef on Sulu Sea has kicked off. The United States Navy is supervising the operation after the gigantic crane Jacson 25 arrived from Singapore, Commo.

Efren Evangelista, commander of the Coast Guard’s Palawan District said: “The operation to remove the Guardian will start tomorrow, Monday. That’s part of the overall plan.”

The crane arrived in Puerto Princesa City on Saturday night where the Bureau of Customs (BOC) conducted the inspection. After BOC granted clearance, the ship progressed to Tubbataha, a Unesco-declared World Heritage Site.

The Guardian reportedly ran aground on the reef after resisting multiple notices not to enter the prohibited marine area. The US government has offered compensation but has failed to explain why its ship sailed on prohibited territory.

On the other hand, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has shown resistance against the compensation offer made by US Secretary of State John Kerry. According to CPP, Kerry’s offer was intended to placate the Philippine government and staff of the USS Guardian from any liability for damaging the World Heritage Site.

CPP says: “Such an offer of compensation should be rejected by the Filipino people because it is being made to evade responsibility and paying the necessary fines under local and international laws. The US offer of compensation and refusal to face responsibility for violations of Philippine laws is an insult to the Filipino people and is a grave affront to Philippine sovereignty.

“No amount of ‘compensation’ for damage to the reefs is enough if this will mean swallowing our national dignity and setting aside our claims of sovereignty.”

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