Capitol, ship owner agree USD1.5 million ceiling claim

The Cebu Provincial Government and the ownership of MV Belle Rose have finally agreed the certain amount to indemnify the damage caused by the grounded ship.

Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. chief, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said the ship owner has agreed to pay up to USD1.5 million.

Tribunalo said, the previous offer was only USD800,000. But following subsequent negotiations, they have finally got the agreeable ceiling cost.

The amount does not only cover indemnification but also the cost of the rehabilitation of the monad shoal. However, the Capitol is still determining the total valuation of the actual damage, the cost of restoration of the monad shoal and other incidental expenses.

Atty. Ahmad Clay Escolar, officer-in-charge, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, said that this could take two to four months.

Escolar said the legal representative of the ship will send a letter of guaranty to pay the maximum allowable claim. After receiving the letter, the Capitol will also reply with a letter of no objection.

Escolar explained that the USD1.5 million will not necessarily be the amount that the Capitol will get since the claim should be reasonable.

He said some of the specific interventions that they consider are fish habitat enhancement device, corrals reattachment, program for the reparation of the resultant damage to fisher folks.

Escolar said they are also looking at to enhance the fish population outside the monad shoal. The incident’s effect on the tourism industry in the island was factored in.

Escolar stated that the compensation will go to the trust fund of the Capitol to make sure that it will only be used to rehabilitate the monad shoal.

He further said that the municipality of Daanbantayan, who has jurisdiction of Malapascua Island, was also invited to participate in the intervention. However, the town was in the transition period when the negotiation happened.

The ship, which was “sort of detained” in the city of Naga, will be allowed to sail outside the jurisdiction of the province following the receipt of the letter of guaranty. But it will not be allowed to go outside the country yet before the actual compliance of the compromise agreement.

Tribunalo thanked the national government agencies and experts who helped the Capitol in the assessment and negotiation process including the Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Department of Tourism.

MV Belle Rose damaged at least three hectares of corrals when it hit the shallow portion of monad shoal on June 13. The Panamian registered vessel was carrying cement additives from Japan to a plant in San Fernando, Cebu.