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Philippines to pursue claims after stuck U.S. ship removed from reef


08:55, April 01, 2013

MANILA, March 31 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government vowed Sunday to press for claims on the damaged Tubbataha Reef off Sulu Sea after the grounded U.S. Navy ship was finally removed from the area Saturday.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said that the government will ensure that similar incident would not happen again.

"We maintain that there must be accountability and we will enforce our existing laws. We will adopt needed measures to prevent repetition (of the incident)," he told reporters in a text message.

The last piece of the USS Guardian was lifted from the UNESCO World Heritage site Saturday.

The U.S. minesweeper was cut into pieces in order to be extricated from the Tubbataha Reef to lessen the damage on the corals. It ran aground in the area on Jan. 17 while on its way to its next port of call and since then it had been stuck there.

The U.S. government vowed to pay for any damages that the ship had incurred on the reef.

Initial estimate by the Philippine government has shown that 4, 000 square meters of corals have been destroyed.

Manila and Washington will conduct joint assessment after the debris from the vessel has been totally removed from the place.

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