SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/07 September) — Local maritime officials seized last Wednesday an unprecedented quantity of endangered seashells reportedly transported from Siargao Islands via a motorized boat.
Police Senior Supt. Verlito G. Paredes, director of the Regional Maritime Office said that at 5:48 P.M. their office received reports of persons transporting the endangered species in Barangay Balibayon, Surigao City.
“As far as I know, since the establishment of our office here, this is the first time that we were able to confiscate this volume of sea shells,” Paredes told MindaNews yesterday.
Maritime Police Inspector Fernando S. Tomamak Jr., who led the team that verified the report, discovered the boat named M/B Brandy 1 loaded with several sacks containing the said endangered shells.
Police said they confiscate 397 pieces of helmet shell or what is commonly called budyong, 16 pieces of Tritoino trumpet shell or tambuli, 368 kilos of Teramachi’s cowrie also known as sigag, and 227 kilos of Cypraea Martinis cowrie or buyayo.
Police identified the suspected poachers as Christopher R. Rosit, of Tabon-Tabon, Carrascal, Surigao del Sur; Marlon D. Espino, of Corrigidor, Dapa, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte; Reynaldo A. Mercado, of Surigao City, owner of the banca; and Danilo A. Aguilar, of Barangay Dahikan, Carrascal.
Paredes said the suspects were released because the City Agriculture Office did not immediately certify that the confiscated seashells belong to the rare and threatened species.
“They should have acted fast in releasing the certification so the suspects could not be released,” Paredes said.
He said they had to release the suspects because they may be held liable for illegal detention.
But he clarified that they already filed a complaint against the suspects for violation of Republic Act 8550 and the Philippine Fisheries Code.
He also warned poachers to refrain from collecting endangered seashells.
Meanwhile, Police Officer 2 Crisande Joy B. Estrella, maritime investigator said the shells would have been shipped to Cebu had they not been confiscated. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)