Wildlife smugglers bound for Manila nabbed in Surigao

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 27 October) — Police manning a checkpoint in Tandag City on Sunday intercepted a shipment of wildlife bound for the lucrative markets in Manila, police said

A cursory check on two vehicles, Ford Everest and a Toyota Innova,  yielded cages of parrots, exotic monitor lizards and other endangered species at the checkpoint in Barangay Buenavista, Tandag City in Surigao del Sur on Sunday, Lt. Col. Christian Rafols II, PNP Caraga spokesperson, said.

Rafols said that when police officers demanded a permit to transport wildlife, the three suspects on board the vehicles could not produce any.

One of the cages of birds that would have been brought to Manila but was intercepted in Tandag CIty on 27 October 2019. PNP Caraga handout

He said the policemen immediately detained the suspects who were identified as Dante L. Toledo, 40, resident of Brgy. Calumpang in General Santos City; Joel C. Demoral, 38, resident of Bulua in Cagayan de Oro City; and Jory C. Demoral, 51, resident of Bankerohan in Davao City.

“Personnel from the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) together with our police officers are still conducting an inventory of the birds and animals,” Rafols said.

Rafols said the endangered birds and animals may have come from Mati City in Davao Oriental, and transported overland to Pasay City where there is a lucrative illegal wildlife trade.

“The forest around Mati city is a biodiversity hotspot and smugglers find it lucrative to bring the birds and animals to Manila,” he said.

Three persons behind the transport of wildlife that would be sold in Manila were arrested Sunday, October 27, 2019 at a checkpoint in Tandag City. PNP Caraga andout

Rafols said cases for violation of Republic Act No. 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act of 1998, will be filed against the suspects.

The Asian Development Bank in its March 2019 report estimated the value of illegal wildlife trade in the Philippines at 50 billion pesos a year.

In 2016, the Biodiversity Conservation Society of the Philippines said the Philippines is a biodiversity hotspot, losing its many terrestrial and endemic species at a rapid rate. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)