Lapu to diver: Show up and face consequences-A A +A
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
LAPU-LAPU City officials called on the diver responsible for vandalizing a coral in Kontiki Wall to show up and face the consequences of his act.
City Legal Officer Yuri Vinluan said the City Hall may impose minimal sanctions if the diver cooperates, especially in ensuring that vandalism underwater will not happen again.
In a press conference yesterday, Vinluan said the City has an ordinance against vandalism, although not specific to corals or marine habitats, that imposes a fine from P500 to P1,500 and an imprisonment for one year with P5,000 administrative penalty.
With vandalism on corals tantamount to aquatic pollution, Vinluan said the City may also file a case against the diver under the Fisheries Code, which imposes imprisonment from six to 12 years and a fine of P80,000 to any violator.
“Our main objective here is for this incident not to happen again. If the diver voluntarily presents himself, there’s a chance we might not pursue a case. He may just have to pay some fine,” Vinluan said.
He added the City may require the diver to participate in activities promoting protection of marine habitats and encourage people not to do what he or she did.
Vinluan said Mayor Paz Radaza will meet today with officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Task Force Kalikasan, members of the City Council and the City Environment and Natural Resources Office to tackle measures to protect marine habitats from vandalism.
City Task Force Kalikasan Coordinator Andy Berame, in the press conference, said they have gathered some information about the identity of the diver who inscribed the word “Ritchie” on a plate coral.
Berame and two other divers noticed the vandalized coral last Sunday morning while monitoring the Kontiki Wall, a popular diving spot off Barangay Maribago.
Berame said the diver may have used a knife or pointer stick, a tool usually carried by divers, to inscribe the word, which they believe to be the diver’s name.
The act was likely committed within three days before divers discovered the vandalized coral.
Berame said they are looking at a male Filipino diver.
“The divers are cooperating with us for the identification of the person behind the vandalism,” he said.
Vinluan said the City Tourism Office will also meet with dive shops, resorts and other stakeholders to discuss the problem. The City will initiate a covenant signing among all stakeholders to protect corals and all other marine habitats.
Berame said not doing harm to corals or to any forms of marine life is a basic rule in scuba diving.
He stressed that diving is a privilege that should be enjoyed responsibly.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 20, 2014.