CEBU is one of the hot spots for wildlife smuggling.
This is according to an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7).
Ariel Rica, chief of the Enforcement Division of the DENR-7, said that Cebu, particularly in Cebu City, has become the center for traders to illegally ship wildlife from other regions and countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.
“Ari ni agi sa ato (They transship the wildlife here). In fact ang uban ani kay ari ra mahalin (others would be sold here),” Rica said.
Rica said they have apprehended sidewalk vendors on Magallanes Street, Cebu City, which they considered as a hot spot area, for selling wildlife such as birds like parakeets and cockatoos.
He said smuggled wildlife that came from Mindanao were usually transshipped in Dumaguete ports in Negros Oriental, then to enter Cebu.
He cited the importance of protecting these wildlife because it would help maintain ecological balance.
He warned traders and buyers of these wildlife of the penalties they would be facing if they would be apprehended.
“Ang katong nagbaligya ug ang nag-possess kay pareha og penalty (The trader and the buyer would have the same penalties),” he said.
Under the Republic Act 9147 otherwise known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, the DENR-7 had at least conducted 265 apprehensions for illegally trading wildlife in the region.
Rica said 90 percent of it are from Cebu.
The number was higher compared to 2016’s apprehensions which were only 51.
If caught obtaining species considered as critical, offenders are asked to pay a fine of P100 thousand to P1 million or / and imprisonment of six to 12 years.
While those apprehended for possession of considered species will also be asked to pay a fine of P50 thousand to P500 thousand or / and imprisonment of a minimum of four to six years.
Rica thus urged those who still possess wildlife animals in their homes without a Certificate of Wildlife Registration (CWR), to turn it over to DENR-7 so as not to be meted with the same punishment.
“Palihug lang inyong i-surrender ang inyong mga pets nga walay permits from the DENR kay ma liable mo for illegal possession of wildlife,” he said.
“Gipanghingusgan namo karon nga to (We have intensified our campaign to) strengthen the enforcement of wildlife and environmental laws in all seaports and airports in Region 7,” he said.
He said they are planning to activate and put DENR monitoring units in all 31 seaports and three airports in the region to monitor illegal shipment of wildlife this year.