GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 19 July) – Authorities here arrested a police officer and took into custody two minors who were with him in hunting a threatened species of bats on Sunday afternoon.
Police also seized 59 dead bats from their possession as well as a 12-gauge shotgun with no serial number and six motorcycles.
Maria Elvira Lumayag, community environment officer, identified the police officer as Staff Sergeant Ibañez Faldas, 33, who is assigned with the municipal police station in Polomolok, South Cotabato.
Lumayag said they chanced upon Faldas, the two minors identified only as Kyle, 17, and Carlos, 15, and the six motorcycles while they were on an enforcement operation in Purok Guadalupe in Conel village, this city.
She did not mention how the minors are related to the policemen and if the trio had other companions, considering that six motorcycles were seized from the scene.
All three arrested are residents of Polomolok town.
The seized bats were identified as large flying foxes (Pteropus vampyrus), one of the largest bats in the world. They have long pointed ears and a dog-like or fox-like face and head.
Lumayag said that large flying foxes are vital to humans and the environment, considering that they are pollinators and seed dispersers. These kind of bats play a significant role in maintaining forest structure in places they inhabit.
Pteropus vampyrus is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a threatened species with its population already in significant decline due to hunting and the destruction of its primary habitats.
Lumayag said Faldas will be charged in court for violation of Republic Act 9147 or the Act Providing for the Conservation and Protection of Wildlife Resources and their Habitat.
Faldas is currently in the custody of the Police Precinct 4 in Barangay San Isidro, this city, while the minors were turned over to the Bahay Pag-Asa, a facility for delinquent juveniles in Barangay Sinawal here. (Rommel G Rebollido / MindaNews)