Bishop calls for tighter security around Tubbataha Reef

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MANILA, April 11, 2013— The government should enforce ‘tighter’ security measures to protect the Tubbataha Reef after a Chinese fishing vessel ran aground the marine park, a Catholic bishop said. 

Palawan Bishop Pedro Arigo said the incident is “unfortunate” considering that it happened just days after a US warship that hit and damaged the protected area was finally removed. 

“I don’t know if the authority has the capability but what is really needed is a stricter, closer and tighter security in the area to avoid this kind of incident again,” Arigo said in a radio interview. 

But the bishop said the problem is that the government lacks resources to enforce maritime law around the Unesco World Heritage site.

“We don’t have these modern equipments so this is really our problem so I hope government will give enough support and funding to our coast guard for them to have modern equipments,” he said. 

“And if there’s a need for more manpower that will secure the area, the government should do something about it, Arigo added. 

The Chinese fishing vessel manned by 12 persons ran aground the famous marine sanctuary last Tuesday, where a US minesweeper got stuck in January and was only removed few days ago. 

The Philippines asked the United States to pay a fine of $1.5 million for the 2,345 square meters of coral reef damaged caused by the grounding. 

The Aquino government, meanwhile, has charged the Chinese fishermen with poaching, facing up to 12 years and fines that could reach more than P4 million depending on the violations. (Roy Lagarde)

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