The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-National Capital Region and the Bureau of Customs-Port of NAIA (BOC-NAIA) won a case it filed against a suspected illegal wildlife trader.
In the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 48 in Pasay City issued last 4 October 2022, the court found the suspect guilty of violating Section 27 (i) of Republic Act No. 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act) and Section 1401 (a) of Republic Act No. 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act).
According to court records, the accused tried to claim on 28 May 2021 a parcel from the BOC-NAIA Central Mail Exchange Center (CMEC) in Pasay City. The parcel came from Kuala Lumpur and was said to contain “Lego toys”. Upon inspection by customs officials, however, the parcel turned out to contain 41 different kinds of wildlife species.
The Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit-NAIA of DENR National Capital Region was immediately informed and, with assistance from the DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), identified the illegally transported wildlife as sulcata tortoise, razorback turtle, red-bearded dragon, corn snake, and savannah lizards with an estimated value of P284,000.
Asked for the transport or import permit for the animals, the accused failed to present any and was immediately arrested by airport officials. DENR National Capital Region and BOC-NAIA then filed the complaint against the accused and testified in court. After several months of hearing, the court sentenced the accused to seven (7) months of imprisonment and meted a fine totaling one hundred twenty-five thousand pesos (P125,000.00).
Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan hailed the conviction and commended the swift action of WTMU personnel and BOC-NAIA. She said the decision would discourage people from engaging in crimes against the environment, in particular the illegal hunting, possession, and trade of wildlife and their derivatives. “Aside from filing and pursuing cases, we really need to be proactive in dealing with illegal wildlife trade”, Director Caancan said. “We need to educate the public of the consequences of violating RA 9147 and the fact that wild animals are not pets”, she added.