Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said that damages inflicted on the Bakud (Takut) Reef in Kiamba, Sarangani by MV Double Prosperity last May 8 should include not only the cost of the damaged coral area but the total worth of marine services that have been lost.
“We estimate that the damaged cost in Bakud Reef could run up to PhP42 million. But this amount is like giving a slap on the wrist on the ship’s owners as the value in marine services that was lost as a consequence of the accident is invaluable,” Paje said.

Thus, Paje directed Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) Director Mundita Lim to recommend in tomorrow’s meeting of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Sangani Bay Protected Seascape, to consider in the computation of penalty to be imposed on the erring ship the lost value of marine services that would remain non-existent for at least 20 years, the minimum period needed before it can regain its former condition,” Paje stressed.

Paje said P42 million is too small a compensation. It does not take into consideration to the lost marine life that could have spawned in the rich marine that could ultimately benefitted even millions of Saranggani residents especially for the region’s fisherfolk and its allied enterprise dependent on the region’s teeming fishing industry.

The 225-meter Panama-registered cargo tanker, loaded with 65,900 metric tons of coal, was heading for India from Australia when it plowed through a portion of Bakud Reef which is within the 215,950- hectare Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (SBPS), a declared protected area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 756.

A hectare (10,000 square meters) of coral reef has an annual average value of US$130,000 in terms of services to humans, according to a research posted at the Science Daily website http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091016093913.htm.

Paje said that the SBPS’s Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) is yet to give an official damage cost and hopes that the figure it will come up with would be reflective of the points he raised.

The SBPS-PAMB is co-chaired by Sarangani Governor Miguel Dominguez and DENR-Region 12 Executive Director Alfredo Pascual and is set to convene on May 18 to assess the damage.

“We must make sure that the operators of MV Double Prosperity pay the full amount of fines due for the reef damage their ship caused. To do any less would make a mockery of the Philippine legal system, particularly our National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Law and the Bakud Reef as a protected area,” Paje said.