In a spate of wildlife enforcement operations in the past weeks, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has successfully arrested two individuals who were selling umbrella cockatoos online.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the arrest of the suspects is part of the department's renewed commitment to "conserve specific terrestrial and marine areas representative of the Philippine natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations" amid the pandemic.

"We will continue to apprehend these illegal wildlife traders whether we have a pandemic or not. This is what the DENR can always assure the public," Cimatu said.

He noted that illegal wildlife traders have become more brazen since the pandemic began, but assured that the DENR remains vigilant to protect the biodiversity.

DENR’s Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force (EPETF) arrested Rendel Santos, 21, and Alvin Santos, 48, for illegal possession and selling of two (2) Umbrella cockatoos (Cacatua alba) at Barangay Pagala in Baliuag, Bulacan last May 2.

The DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Baliuag, Bulacan said the suspects were not issued a permit to transport the cockatoos.

The Umbrella cockatoo is listed under Appendix II of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means that the species is not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled. It also includes so-called "look-alike species", i.e. species whose specimens in trade look like those of species listed for conservation reasons.

Criminal charges will be filed against the suspects for violating Republic Act (RA) 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Protection and Conservation Act of 2001.

Section 23 of RA 9147 states that collection of threatened wildlife including the by-products and derivatives shall be allowed only for scientific, or breeding or propagation purposes, and provided that only the accredited individuals, business, research, educational or scientific entities shall be allowed to collect for conservation breeding or propagation purposes.

Last April 28, the EPETF also arrested an individual in Sta. Mesa, Manila for illegally selling umbrella cockatoos and palm cockatoos online. ###