Panel of investigators, reviewing documents on USS Guardian grounding in Palawan

The panel of investigators on the grounding of the USS Guardian in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) are reviewing documents and reports that were submitted following the incident.

Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Palawan District commander, who joined the Philippine investigating team in Sasebo, Japan last week, said investigation on the minesweeper's stranding in the South Atoll in Tubbataha is now underway.

“Documents submitted are now being reviewed by the joint investigating team. Maybe in a week’s time or two, the investigating panel will meet again,” said Evangelista to the Philippine News Agency (PNA). The head of the investigating team from the Philippine government is Admiral Luis Tuazon.

“If more documents are needed, the investigating panel will request for them again and then review,” he added.

Last week, the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) said it will seek from the U.S. Navy more than P58 million in damages to the coral isle due to the grounding of the USS Guardian.

Based on the law that governs over the protection, preservation and conservation of the marine protected area, the PAMB will collect P12,000 per square meter of damaged reef and the same amount also per square meter for rehabilitation.

Contrary to an early estimate of 4,000 square meters damaged reefs, the assessment deduced that the destruction was much less at 2,345.67 square meters.

In an interview with the local media earlier, Jose Lorenzo Tan of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Philippines said the methodology in the assessment they used determined accurately the size of the damaged corals.