PUERTO PRINCESA City, Palawan, Feb. 22—Bishop Pedro D. Arigo of the Prelature of of Puerto Princesa expresses hope that transparency and accountability will be exercised with regard to the Php 87-million which the United States (US) government had paid in fine for the damages its vessel, the USS Guardian, had caused the Tubbataha Reefs National Park in 2013.
The prelate said given the culture of corruption eating away at the country’s system, he cannot help but raise the alarm on how authorities intend to use the huge amount, and calls on the Filipino public to closely monitor the programs, or the lack thereof, on which the money will supposedly be spent .
“We know all too well the unfortunate way with which funds are handled in this country … We really do hope, however, that each centavo of the Php 87 million will be duly accounted for and really used for repairing and conserving the Tubbataha Reef,” he explained.
In his recent interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas, Arigo shared he had heard of existing technology capable of quickly reviving the damaged corals which ordinarily take several generations to grow.
The Puerto Princesa bishop stressed the Catholic Church is one with concerned anti-corruption groups in ensuring that the money will be expended accordingly.
Moreover, Arigo has invited the lay faithful to get themselves involved in the Ugnayang Barangay at Simbahan (UBAS) which will give them an opportunity to be part of a team that monitors and campaigns for government transparency and accountability.
World Heritage Site
On January 17, 2013, the US Navy minesweeper USS Guardian reportedly ran aground at the UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site, damaging an area of 2,345.67 square meters (25,248.6 sq ft).
The incident sparked nationwide outrage, prompting the US government to issue a public apology. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)