Ship that damaged reef to face charges

THE Talisay City Government has decided to pursue a civil case against a foreign cargo ship that destroyed a protected marine sanctuary off Barangay Poblacion two years ago. In its regular session yesterday, the Sangguniang Panglungsod (SP) approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Socrates Fernandez to file a civil complaint against the owner, ship captain and local agent of mv United. Councilor Bernard Joseph Odilao, the proponent, said the City has no other recourse but to file a civil complaint in the proper court to compel the foreign shipping firm to compensate for the damage its cargo ship had caused Lagundi Reef. Odilao, city council committee chairman on environmental protection, wildlife, ecology and natural resources management, said the mv United has allegedly violated RA 9147 or the Wildlife Conservation Act. His newly-approved measure allotted at least P1.3 million to cover the filing fees and other litigation expenses. Odilao said the City already sent formal demands to the officials of mv United, “but until now, they have refused and to date still refuse to heed the valid demands of the city.” In March 2009, the 31,643-gross ton bulk carrier tried to drop anchor off Talisay City’s waters but instead plowed through the corals and seabed of Lagundi reef. Boat ride The four-hectare reef is just a 10-minute boat ride from Barangay Poblacion’s shoreline. As assessed by the Coastal Management Resource of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources 7, the vessel damaged roughly 3,800 square meters of the reef, with an estimated P60 million in economic losses. The DENR’s assessment was based on the actual damage to the reef, the cost of a 25-year rehabilitation period and the income lost to the city in missed tourism opportunities. The shipping company had extended $10,000 cash aid to the City after the incident, but city officials said the amount was not enough to compensate for the actual damage. Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 22, 2011.