Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Jim O. Sampulna praised the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) for launching a technical review process of the current response to wildlife and forest crimes in the Philippines.

Sampulna said the Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit will combat the unlawful and “lucrative” industry of illegal wildlife trade in the Philippines, which is often a source and transshipment point of wildlife and wildlife by-products.

He pointed out that illegal trading is valued at around US$50 billion per year, thus “allowing perpetrators to invest in measures that will enable them to escape detection, investigation, and prosecution.”

“We, as enforcers of environmental laws, need all the help that we can get. This is where the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife and Forest Crime analytic toolkit can bridge the gap,” he added as he addressed the attendees from law enforcement agencies in the country during the high-level launch on May 23.

The DENR chief highlighted the role of international support to the Philippine government in enforcing laws and prosecuting culprits.

He added that with the help of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the toolkit will allow the DENR to better understand the preventive and criminal justice system's response to wildlife and forest crime.

Sampulna also said that concerned agencies can jointly identify systematic issues and agree on evidence-based recommendation in response to legislative, enforcement, prosecution, and judiciary facets of wildlife trade through the toolkit.

Moreover, he urged other government officials to battle the multimillion illegal business as environmental crimes severely damage critical ecosystems and exacerbate poverty.

“To protect people and the planet in line with the sustainable development goals, and to build back better from the COVID-19 crisis, we have to combat environmental crimes, including the illegal trafficking of wild flora and fauna,” said Sampulna.

The launch was attended by UNODC-Environment Team chief Jorge Rios, United States Embassy for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Director Kelia Cummins, and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero. ###