Crackdown on illegal wildlife meat traders intensified

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram, Rosalie O. Abatayo December 12,2018 - 10:55 PM

THE crackdown on wildlife meat traders will be relentless especially with the recent apprehension of at least 60 kilograms of green sea turtle meat in Barangay Pasil, Cebu City.

Atty. Habeas Corpuz, National Bureau of Investigation Environmental Crime Division (NBI-ECD) agent on the case, said they will do stringent monitoring of establishments in the city that are suspected of trading wildlife meat.

Corpuz said further investigation revealed that the eatery along F. Rallos Street in Barangay Pasil is not the only one that sells “power” or larang made of green sea turtle, locally known as ‘pawikan.’

“Based on information, naa pay lain nga namaligya [og power] pero amo pa na nga i-confirm. Continue mi sa pag-monitor sa area karon labi na kay daghan gyod to ang na-haul sa operation gahapon (Tuesday),” Corpuz told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview on Wednesday.

(There is another one that reportedly sells ‘power’ but that is still subject for confirmation. We will continue to monitor the area especially that our operation yesterday hauled a relatively large volume.)

Meanwhile, the Cebu City Prevention Restoration Order Beautification Enhancement (PROBE) team also committed to clear F. Rallos Street of eateries to help the NBI in monitoring the area for other stores that sell ‘power.’

Probe Chief Raquel Arce said the encroachment of the stalls was not only limited to the sidewalk but also on F. Rallos Street itself. She said she will recommend to clear said street.

Arce said clearing F. Rallos Street would make it easier for authorities to monitor possible illegal meat trade, and apprehend those who continue to engage in such unlawful act.

Notorious

Barangay Pasil has gained notoriety over the past few years for brazenly selling meat of several endangered marine creatures like sea turtles, sharks, and sting and manta rays.

The stewed pawikan has gained popularity among locals, and even tourists who believe in its aphrodisiac powers.

“Hugtan nato ang pag-monitor sa area labi na nga padulong ang Sinulog kay according to reports, murag mas daghan ang manganha ani nga season. Bali suki nila,” said Corpuz.

The five persons who were arrested on Tuesday are still detained at the NBI Central Visayas Regional Office (NBI Cevro) after NBI-ECD and DENR were able to file charges against them at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday afternoon.

Charged

Corpuz said that during the inquest, the cashier and the cook, who turned out to be sisters, admitted that they own the eatery.

Multiple counts of illegal possession and trading of wildlife were filed against Donesa Obatay-Bustamante, the cashier; Cresley Obatay, the cook; and helpers Ariesteo Pableo, Julio Abunta and Clifford Obatay.

Corpuz said that they did not include “killing” of wildlife in the case since they do not have a strong evidence that the eatery workers were the ones who butchered the sea turtles.

Following Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, trading of endangered animals or their by-products is punishable with imprisonment of at least six months to one year with conditional accessory penalty of P10,000 to P100,000.

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TAGS: crackdown, illegal, meat, traders, wildlife

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