The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has filed on Tuesday (Aug. 7) criminal charges against an Indonesian national living in General Santos City and his four Filipino friends for possessing 17 heads of Sulawesi bear cuscus without permit in violation of Republic Act No. 9147, otherwise known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
Presented before the General Santos City Prosecutor’s Office for inquest were Indonesian national Ryan Lucas, 38, also known as Rio Paparang, residing at Sitio Tuning, Brgy. Lagao, General Santos City; Mark John Ordaniza Villaver and Johndee Monacillo Lumokso, both 24 years old and residents of San Miguel, Calumpang, General Santos City; Jolito Roa Resare, 38 years old of New Corilla, Davao Del Norte; and a certain Alber Miguel of Lumasal, Maasim, Sarangani Province. DENR Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Ruel S. Divino said the criminal charges stemmed from the apprehension of 17 heads of Sulawesi cuscus bear ((Ailurops ursinus) from Lucas’s group by joint operatives of the DENR and the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group on Monday.
Initial investigation revealed that the cuscus bear were reportedly smuggled out of Indonesia and brought to the General Santos City through a fishing banca without appropriate permits from Indonesian authorities.
On Aug. 8, however, two of the cuscus bear died, prompting DENR-Region 12 Protected Areas and Wildlife Division chief Ali M. Hadjinasser to seek the assistance of Regional Veterinary Quarantine Officer Leo E. Castro for a routine check-up of the rescued wildlife, including quarantine services.
In a related development, DENR-Region 12 Technical Director for Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Service Geronimo L. Sequito said that he is currently in talks with Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) Director Theresa Mundita Lim on the repatriation of the animals to Indonesia.
“We are awaiting the decision of the PAWB on the fate of the rescued animals, which are not yet endangered but classified as vulnerable, under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). I believe the animals should be released back to their natural habitat,” Sequito said.