ILOILO CITY, Philippines — Three traders were nabbed Wednesday morning for buying and selling of endangered marine species worth PHP1.6 million.
Authorities identified the suspects as Rosalie Medina and Rolito Torres, both of Estancia, Iloilo and Jovin Mangubat of Kabankalan City.
A total of 19 kilos of assorted dried seahorse and sea dragon with market value of more or less PHP1.5 million and 16 sacks of nautilus shells with market value of more or less PHP150,000 were confiscated from the suspects.
Joint teams of the Provincial Special Operations Group of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office led by Police Chief Inspector Jonathan Pinuela, in coordination with Municipal Police Station of Estancia and Municipal Agriculturist Hector Magtiza, arrested the suspects in a raid conducted around 11:00 a.m, at Zone I, Estancia, Iloilo.
Pinuela said that the suspects violated provisions of the revised Fisheries Code of the Philippines. He said that under the act, violators may be fined up to PHP500,000.
The suspects will also pay five times of the total costs of the confiscated products.
Pinuela said that the confiscated products would be turned over to the municipal office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
The suspects are currently under the custody of the Estancia Municipal Police Station while the police are still working on the charges to be filed against them.
Pinuela assured that the owner of the business, identified as Steve Lim, a resident of Bacolod City, will also face charges.
Pinuela said he received the information a month ago from an informant about the ongoing trade of endangered species in the area.
The marine products were sourced from the municipal waters of Estancia.
“Allegedly, they are disposing it to the buyers who are foreigners like Taiwanese and Chinese,” he said.
Pinuela said the arrest of the illegal traders would serve as a warning to those still engaging in this kind of business. –PNA