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Captain Oscar Endona Jr. of the Philippine Coast Guard, which has been monitoring the situation at the protected Palawan marine park, said salvaging operations for the USS Guardian may have to wait until March to go full swing.
“We might have a problem working on the Guardian kasi nga dahil sa condition ng weather. Magalaw right now, so we have to wait until summer na pristine na ang tubig at hindi na magulo,” Endona said in a report by GMA News’ Bernadette Reyes.
Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, head of Task Force Tubbataha, meanwhile said that authorities cannot conduct continuous operations at the marine protected area unless the sea and weather conditions improve.
“Unpredictable ang weather, so kapag masama ang dagat, tinitigil ang trabaho for safety reasons,” Evangelista said in the same television report.
The Philippine officials made these statements after SMIT Borneo, one of the crane ships contracted to help extract the US warship from the Tubbataha Reef, arrived at the Puerto Princesa City port on Sunday morning after encountering delays due to bad weather.
On January 17, the USS Guardian, which just completed a port call in Subic Bay, ran aground on the reef in Sulu Sea on its way to Indonesia supposedly due to strong currents.
Angelique Songco, Tubbataha marine park manager, said the damage caused by the USS Guardian to the marine sanctuary has already reached over 4,000 square meters—four times the initial damage assessment of 1,000 square meters.
US to help Tubbataha restoration
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) meanwhile pledged on Sunday to fund research and restoration of the Tubbataha reef.
The USAID’s Coral Triangle Support Partnership will be granting P4.1 million (US$100,000) to a Philippine university to support coral restoration research at Tubbataha Reef.
The US embassy will likewise organize a roundtable discussion with local reef conservation experts in the next two weeks to discuss concerns and options for conservation and restoration of the reef.
The USAID, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), Philippine agencies, and the Tubbataha Management Office have been invited to join the discussion. — Andreo C. Calonzo and Amanda Fernandez/BM, GMA News
News Source: GMA NEWS TV
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