Paje urges public to help stamp out illegal wildlife trade

Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has called on the public to remain vigilant against wildlife crime and help authorities stamp out the illegal trade that is pushing endangered species toward extinction.

The environment chief renewed his call for vigilance following the recent arrest of wildlife offenders in two separate cases by operatives of the DENR-led Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade, also known as Task Force POGI.

Aside from being vigilant, Paje said the public can help combat illegal wildlife trade by not patronizing illegal wildlife consumerism.

“The public can assist us in two ways: by being vigilant and reporting suspected illegal traders, and by refusing to buy or own wildlife pets sourced from these illegal traders. And we are grateful that there are those who have already been heeding this call,” Paje said.

He added: “Remember that when there are no buyers, there are no sellers nor poachers. It is also easy to verify the legality of a wildlife trader’s business operation through a certification from the DENR.”

Just recently, Task Force POGI – a composite group of personnel deputized by the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and officers of law enforcement agencies like the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation – was able to apprehend two wildlife suspects in separate cases involving violations of Republic Act (RA) No. 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

One of the operations conducted by Task Force POGI last September 23 led to the arrest of a certain Jerry Juan of Caloocan City, a tomb caretaker at the Manila North Cemetery who had converted a mausoleum into a bird breeding center and another into a makeshift aviary.

More than 60 birds of different kinds, including the endangered Philippine cockatoo, were confiscated from the suspect.

The other operation held last October 5 resulted in the arrest of a certain Artemio Lordan of Calaca, Batangas, and the rescue of a Brahminy kite, locally known as lawin, that he was selling along Aguinaldo Highway in Alfonso, Cavite.

The two suspects were arrested after “concerned citizens” phoned in. The confiscated birds have been turned over to the nearest wildlife rescue centers of DENR in Cavite and in Quezon City.

Under RA 9147, mere possession of endangered wildlife species is an automatic felony punishable by a jail term of up to two years and a fine of not more than P20,000. Involvement in illegal trade of endangered species carries a penalty of two years imprisonment and a fine of P200,000. #  



DENR wants ‘much bigger role’ for LGUs in biodiversity conservation

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is hosting a two-day national conference for some local government units (LGUs) to prepare them for a much bigger role in biodiversity conservation.

The National Conference on Local Conservation Areas, to be held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Pasig City on October 23-24, will address the theme “Diversifying and Strengthening Participatory Governance in Biodiversity Conservation.”

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said the agency’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) will bring together representatives from LGUs and key conservation groups in a bid to develop more effective operative models for the establishment of local conservation areas (LCAs) and critical habitats.

The environment chief said the conference will also pay tribute to LGUs and their leaders who have exhibited good practice in managing conservation areas, and are willing to share their experiences for other LGUs to emulate.

“The conference is a big boost to biodiversity conservation as we intend to produce more LGUs recognizing that an umbilical cord exists between their local economy and the health of their ecosystems,” Paje said.

During the conference, case studies on the challenges and opportunities in conservation of key biodiversity areas will be presented, highlighting current and future initiatives in LCAs.

There will also be a wide-ranging discussion on the issues of tourism, incentives to LGUs to take proactive roles in biodiversity conservation, and biodiversity-friendly practices in agriculture and fisheries.

Expected to grace the event include senior officials from the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism, DENR and some 200 local executives.

LCAs are areas that are not within protected areas pursuant to the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992, but have been set aside for conservation purposes through ordinances, with the local government taking the lead in implementing conservation and protection activities.

These sites are located within key biodiversity areas identified by the DENR-BMB, the Conservation International Philippines and the Haribon Foundation.

LCAs include areas of high biological diversity or those vulnerable to climate change and geological hazards, and locally significant areas with ecotourism potentials like the Chocolate Hills in Bohol province. #  



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