Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu declared that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will continue its fight against illegal wildlife trade and uphold the country’s ecological integrity amid the Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-2019 pandemic.

“We will not be complacent even in today’s worst global humanitarian crisis. We assure the public that the DENR would not cease in going after illegal wildlife trade criminals, especially those who have seized the opportunity to take advantage of the crisis through wildlife trafficking,” Cimatu said.

The environment chief also lauded the DENR wildlife enforcers who continue to coordinate with all DENR partner agencies particularly with the Bureau of Customs and the National Bureau of Investigation to fight illegal wildlife trade.

“Just like the other frontliners in health, food security, social service, military, and economic government institutions, our indefatigable wildlife enforcers have committed to continue with their public service and duty to protect our country’s natural resources. For the same sacrifices they make, we ought to give them their much-deserved salute,” Cimatu said.

Last month, the Enforcement Division of DENR National Capital Region led by Forester Orly Cariazo, with the help of Barangay 384 patrollers of the City Government of Manila, successfully rescued a Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis) in Quiapo, Manila. The pangolin was brought for proper medical treatment and care at the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Biodiversity Management Bureau in Quezon City.

The Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis), which was implicated by some scientists as the source of the COVID-19 virus, is endemic in Palawan province and listed as “critically endangered species” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is believed to have healing properties that can be used for traditional medicine and cuisine, making the scaly anteaters a target for illegal wildlife trade in East Asia.

On March 26, Cimatu suspended the acceptance, processing and issuance of all transport-related permits or documents for all wildlife as an added measure to avert the transmission of COVID-19.###