Foreign cargo vessel owners to pay USD1.5M for damage of coral reef in north Cebu

Foreign cargo vessel owners to pay USD1.5M for damage of coral reef in north Cebu

CEBU CITY — The owners of MV Belle Rose, a Panama-registered ship which ran aground in the Monad Shoal in Malapascua island off northern Cebu, is set to pay USD1.5 million for the damages caused on the coral reef, an official said.

Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) head Baltazar Tribunalo said the amount was agreed after a series of negotiations to assess the damage caused and the rehabilitation to be done.

The cargo ship hit the shallow portion of Monad Shoal, four nautical miles southeast of Malapascua, on June 12, causing damage to the coral reef, reportedly the home of thresher sharks.

But lawyer Ace Escolar, incoming head of the Cebu Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro), said the amount is not the actual money to be handed but the maximum amount prior to the restoration and rehabilitation of the damaged areas.

He said the provincial government has yet to justify if the amount is really needed.

The assessment will be done within two to three months, he said.

Escolar said the cash will come together with the letter of guarantee, which serves as the province’s security and assurance that MV Belle Rose will pay.

The ship is currently barred from sailing out of Cebu, but may be allowed to sail within the Philippines once the province gets the letter of guarantee to pay USD1.5 million.

Escolar said the money will be used for the rehabilitation of the damaged coral reef. PNA / northboundasia.com