If you have been following the news lately, you’d know that the US minesweeper USS Guardian has run aground the Tubbataha Reef last January 17. Today, initial assessment by the US Navy and Philippine divers reveal that about 1,000 square meters of the reef has been damaged.
The minesweeper has been stuck in the reef for a week now and couldn’t be removed due to bad weather. There’s a big possibility that there will be more damage if it’s not removed soon.
There are only 188 natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, and two of these are in the Philippines. One is the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, and the other, the Tubbataha Reef National Park. These two also top the list of 10 natural wonders of the Philippines.
That this disaster should happen to a Philippine national treasure is most unfortunate. Tubbataha has been a protected marine preserve for the past twenty years. And since the Philippines is part of the coral triangle, it also puts Tubbataha at the global center of marine biodiversity in the world. Pinaka-iingat-ingatan ‘yan. So I cannot begin to imagine the effect of this disaster to the marine life not only around the area, but the rest of the world as well.
I really hope that the US will be able to remove the ship without causing further damage to the reef. And that they be penalized for their unauthorized presence inside a protected area.
But the question that everybody is asking now is: what was a US minesweeper doing there in the first place?
Read about the Top 10 Amazing Natural Wonders in the Philippines here.