DENR agents arrest smuggler of pangolins, sea turtles in Palawan
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — Environment enforcers of the city government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) arrested on Saturday a truck driver for transporting pangolin meat and preserved marine turtles.
Arrested was Joshue Calinog of Barangay Jolo, Roxas, driver of the truck intercepted at a checkpoint in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, while transporting 21 pangolins (Manis culionensis) and 16 marine turtles around 5:28 a.m.
Calinog, who was also found to be carrying a 38 caliber pistol, was bringing his illegal cargo from Roxas to the city proper, said Emer Garraez of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).
She said Calinog’s arrest is attributed to their intensified monitoring activities in cooperation with the Philippine National Police (PNP), and Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).
“This is the result of our strengthened monitoring of trucks and vehicles that pass by the checkpoint. When this truck got here, it was inspected and pangolins and sea turtles were discovered. We coordinated with the PNP and the PCSD because they are the main implementers of the wildlife law,” she said.
Charges will be filed against Calinog for violation of the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of the Philippines (RA 9147).
Garraez said they are still investigating Calinog to provide the identity of the owner of the illegal wildlife shipment. He was alone in his truck when it was stopped by CENRO enforcers and policemen.
Meanwhile, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Felizardo Cayatoc of the local DENR, lauded the efforts of environment enforcers who were able to block the prohibited shipment of pangolin meat and sea turtles.
“They were not concealed, they’re on the back of the truck that’s just open and inside sacks. Nobody will suspect that what he’s carrying is actually banned wildlife. This checkpoint and its vigilance are effective in ensuring illegal wildlife transporting will not happen, particularly if done with the PNP,” Cayatoc said.
He said the sea turtles’ flesh or meat had already been removed and preserved using formaldehyde with only their heads and shells undamaged.
Cayatoc said he suspects there is a buyer of the illegal shipment in Puerto Princesa since pangolin meat is used as Chinese medicine while turtle shells are for decorations.
“Pag-dinala na yan sa Manila, naka-chopped na at hindi na yan mahalata ng mag-inspection, kasi para na lang chicken meat (If you bring that to Manila already chopped, the inspector won’t suspect they are pangolins since they look like chicken meat),” he said. (PNA)