Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chiz To US: Pay Penalty In Cash, Not In Kind

The United States government should pay up in cash on the P58 million penalty imposed on the US Navy vessel that ran aground and caused damage in the World Heritage site Tubbataha Reef. Escudero, at the same time, called on the government to reject US suggestions to settle its obligations in kind.

“I insist that the US government pays up in cash. The suggestion to settle their obligations through donations or aid loans is not acceptable. They should follow what the Philippine law requires for the incident,” he said.
“Even if the return from the offer to pay in kind would be bigger than the actual fine, it remains unacceptable since what is provided in the law should be followed,” Escudero said.

To agree with the US government suggestion it provides aid instead of paying a fine is equivalent to accepting the USS Guardian should not be held accountable for the destruction it caused on Tubbataha Reef, according to Escudero.

“The law imposes an inequitably small fine compared to the damage caused on the reef. It would not help in protecting the resource if the government waives the fine in favor of other considerations being offered by the US government,” Escudero added.

Last January 17, the US Navy minesweeper ran aground at the Tubbataha Reef supposedly on its way to Indonesia after a port call at Subic Bay. The US Navy took two months to dismantle and extricate the military vessel from the reef.

Escudero said it is not about the amount that the country will get from the United States but it is all about following the law. It is all about the principle of respect between two allies, he said. /MP

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