Maritime police steps up patrol activities vs. wildlife traffickers

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PUERTO PRINCESA CITY –– Maritime police authorities up in arms against  wildlife traffickers in southern Palawan, particularly along the coastal areas of the province.

Police Supt. Greg Togonon, chief of the 2nd Special Operations Unit-Maritime Group (SOU-MG) in Palawan, said their increased vigilance against unscrupulous individuals who collect and attempt to transport wildlife species outside the province has already gained favorable results.

“Talagang naghihigpit kami at tinutukoy na namin ngayon ang sources at baka makalagpas pa (We are now tightening our operations against them and are really identifying sources because they might be able to escape),” he told the Philippine News Agency.

Togonon said that on Thursday, they have arrested suspected wildlife trafficker Robin Lamane, 46, in Sitio Culandanum, Barangay Sumbiling, Bataraza, for violation of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources and Protection Act.

Around 10 heads of the endangered talking mynah, locally known as “kiao,” were confiscated from Lamane in the coastal area of Sumbiling.

He said Lamane was placed under surveillance by their group before his arrest at around 8 a.m.

“Ang modus nila mag-gather then isasakay sa bangka palabas ng Palawan. Di na namin inantay na dumami pa at kawawa mga ibon (Their modus is to gather then load them in motorized boats and transport them outside Palawan. We didn’t wait for him to collect more before we made the arrest because the birds are pitiable),” Togonon added.

Lamane is now under the custody of the 2nd SOU-MG at its detachment in Barangay Rio Tuba, also in Bataraza.

Togonon said collecting endangered Palawan birds, such as talking mynah and blue-naped parrot, is commonly perpetrated in Rizal, Quezon, and Bataraza towns, all in southern Palawan.

He said they credit the suspect’s arrest to the Coastal Barangay Information Net, a community-based reporting system where residents actively participate.

“Proactive response was undertaken in this operation. When the information was received, we immediately planned to conduct police operation,” he stated.

He said the idea was to send the strong message that “would-be violators,” regardless of quantity, will be arrested and will face charges.

Togonon added that since the suspect is reportedly also into buying and trading of the birds, it is necessary that he is immediately arrested in order to stop the trafficking in Bataraza.

“Waiting for large quantities before the conduct of operation would not be a better option because in the process when the wildlife species are gathered, caged, and transported, a sizeable number of them die in the process, hence affecting our conservation and protection initiatives,” he said.

Earlier this month,  a composite team of environmental enforcers confiscated an estimated 202 heads of talking mynah and blue-naped parrots in Barangay Quinlogan, Quezon town also in southern Palawan. -PNA

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