MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 June) — After more than a month, the overseas cargo ship that ran aground and destroyed a large area of Bacud Reef in Kiamba town in Sarangani was refloated early today, the Sarangani Information Office said in a statement.
Quoting a Philippine Coast Guard official, the statement said M/V Double Prosperity has been towed towards Davao City for emergency repairs.
Cdr. Roy Echeverria, General Santos City Coast Guard station deputy commander, said the vessel towed by tugboats of the salvor Malayan Towage Company was given certification to sail from Kiamba to Davao City where the vessel would dock until such time that the Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI) hearings were done.
Echeverria, who also chairs the SBMI, has assured the provincial government that the PCG “will, in all our power, hold the vessel until they have settled with the province.”
“We will set SBMI hearing until such time that both experts have agreed (on the remuneration). Hence we have reason to technically hold the vessel by virtue of your complaint and later on, the written agreement,” Echeverria said in a text message to provincial legal officer Arnel Zapatos Wednesday.
Gov. Miguel Dominguez placed the damage at between 40 and 65 million pesos.
He said the provincial government would only let the vessel go after its owner has completely complied with its obligations.
Zapatos said the Protected Area Management Board led by the governor has already filed a Complaint in Intervention before the SBMI.
“In the Special Board of Marine Inquiry, we prayed that the boat will be retained by the Philippine Coast Guard under their authority being the investigative body and being mandated by law as one of the protectors of the environment,” Zapatos said.
“Just this morning the chairman of SBMI assured us that the boat will not be cleared to leave the country until and when the SBMI is done for the compromise agreement on the damage that will be submitted before the SBMI,” he added.
Bacud Reef is said to be a habitat of the endangered Mameng or Napoleon wrasse.
Since only a few other sites in the Philippines serve as habitats of Mameng, the presence of this species in Bacud Reef makes the area an important conservation site, the information office said.
M/V Double Prosperity is as long as two football fields. (MindaNews)