Compromise reached on Monad Shoal damage
The Cebu provincial government and other entities that suffered damage after the cargo vessel MV Belle Rose ran aground in the waters off Daanbantayan town last week have formally agreed to settle the matter amicably and allow the ship to leave Cebu for needed repairs in Subic Bay, Zambales.
This as Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III is expected to come out with an Executive Order today formally creating the Monad Shoal Task Force composed of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) 7, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 7, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7, the local government of Daanbantayan, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) and the Provincial Legal Office.
“We’re very happy that we came into an agreement that after the assessment, there will be a meeting of the technical team in terms of the extent of the damage, the kinds of corals, area being covered or damaged. The ship owners also have their own experts,” said PDRRMO head Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. in a press conference after an inter-agency meeting at the governor’s office yesterday.
Lawyer Benjamin Cabredo of the Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC) said the group also agreed that the task force will discuss claims for damages against the ship owners in a workshop that has yet to be scheduled.
“This is in order to have a consolidated claim so that the ship owners, also represented, will deal only with a single entity and settlement will be fast tracked,” Cabredo said.
The claim, he said, will include the actual cost of replanting the affected corals; rehabilitation, protection and management of the shoal; incidental damages sustained by those relying on Monad Shoal like tourism-based establishments and fisherfolk; administrative fines collected by different agencies which have jurisdiction over the shoal like BFAR, DENR and the town of Daanbantayan; as well as expenses incurred by the provincial government in responding to the problem.
During the meeting yesterday, a Memorandum of Consensus was signed by the shipping company, PDRRMO and PENRO allowing the vessel to leave Cebu for repairs amid continued negotiations for a settlement and for a letter of guarantee from the ship owner, Sun Ship Management Corp.
The Panamanian-registered cargo ship is currently discharging its cargo in San Fernando town after it was refloated, Monday.
The ship’s cargo will take around 10 days to unload after which the vessel will leave for the Keppel Subic Shipyard for repairs.
The ship though is expected to remain within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines until the letter of guarantee is issued by the ship owner.
The ship owners’ lawyer Pedrito Faytaren Jr. assured that the vessel won’t be leaving the Philippines anytime soon.
Faytaren said he will continue to coordinate with the province for the joint reef and coral damage assessment, documentation, compromise agreement, mitigation and restoration of the damaged shoal.
MV Belle Rose was carrying 48,000 metric tons of clinker, a raw material used to produce cement, when it hit a shallow portion of the 300-hectare shoal last week. The accident damaged at least three hectares of corals in the protected area which would cost about $30,000 to rehabilitate.
Monad Shoal in the northern municipality of Daanbantayan is part of the Malapascua dive spot, considered one of the country’s best dive sites.
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