Philippines: US Navy Ship Damages ‘Protected’ Tubbataha Reefs

Filipino netizens, environmentalists, and nationalists are angry after a United States Navy minesweeper, the USS Guardian, caused damage to the corals of the Tubbataha Reefs in the Sulu Sea. According to the US Navy website, their ship

ran aground on Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, a World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea, 640 kilometers (400 miles) southeast of Manila at 2:25 a.m. local time, January 17.

The Tubbataha Reefs was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. It is a protected marine area that is off-limits to ships.

However, the USS Guardian entered the marine park without prior authorization. The US naval personnel of the ship also allegedly prevented park rangers from inspecting the marooned ship. The rangers were instead told to just call the US embassy in Manila.

The US Navy claims that the ship ran aground because of “inaccurate navigation” and that it was investigating the incident.

‘Justice for Ruined Reefs’, the call of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Management

Twitter Reactions

Many reactions on Twitter and other social networking sites poke fun at the US Navy.

@theblue_iguana: Why did the minesweeper enter the Tubbataha restricted zone? Was it for recreation or siga lang talaga sila? [or they really just rash?]

@carloshconde: Damn you, Apple Maps! “@djstaana: US Navy: map error eyed as possible cause for USS Guardian running aground at Tubbataha Reef”

@venzie: It's the fault of the Coral Reef, they did not step aside. #SaveTubbataha #USTroopsOut


Shark at Tubbataha. Photo by Simon Hefti, Schweiz, Wikipedia

Some tweets centered on the damage inflicted by the US navy ship on the protected reefs and the environment.

@camylbee: On other news, the Tubbataha reef is bleeding. No amount of fines will bring it back to its former glory, at least in, oh say, 20,000 years.

@arnoldpadilla: after dumping toxic wastes in subic, a us ship runs aground in tubbataha reef. crimes of us troops in ph are rising

@akosiays: From minesweeper to coral-destroyer and reef-destroyer! #SaveTubbataha #Tubbataha


There are also those who condemn the violation of Philippine sovereignty by ‘arrogant’ US military forces in Philippine territory.

@tonyocruz: If Filipino tourists accidentally damaged Mount Rushmore or crashed into landmarks at The Mall, there would surely be grave repercussions.

@atomaraullo: Adding insult to injury, the crew of the USS Guardian have allegedly not been cooperative with park rangers. Naman. #Tubbataha

@natoreyes: US Navy should be held liable for unauthorized entry and damage to reef


Others question the administration of President Benigno “Noynoy Aquino III for its silence on the issue and alleged puppetry to US political and economic interests in the region.

@edikdolotina: Bakit walang statements sina Valte at Lacierda re US warship stuck in our #Tubbataha ? #SaveTubbataha

@edikdolotina: Why don't [Presidential spokespersons] Valte and Lacierda issue statements re US warship stuck in our #Tubbataha ? #SaveTubbataha

@thejaqpot: Ano PNoy, NGANGA na lang? Kung maka-putak pag may incursions ang China. Pero pag US, ok lang?#TUTAmuch #SaveTubbataha

@thejaqpot: What now [President Noynoy]? How you squawk when there are Chinese incursions. But if its the US, it's just okay? #PUPPETmuch #SaveTubbataha

@tonyocruz: When Chinese ships entered PH waters off Panatag, Malacanang went nuts. When US warship crashed at Tubbataha reef, Palace became blind.


Some also point out to the need for the immediate scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows the presence of US troops in the country in violation of the Philippine Constitution.

@jc_naguit: Ang epekto ng VFA sa ating teritoryo! #SaveTubbataha! #JunkVFA! #Hypocrisy!

@jc_naguit: This is the effect of VFA to our territory! #SaveTubbataha! #JunkVFA! #Hypocrisy!


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.