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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Fight environmental terrorism – Congress

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A lawmaker has called on Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to intensify the government’s campaign against wildlife trafficking in the country, which she described as a form of environmental terrorism.

Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato made the call following reports that the Philippine National Police recovered 70 dead marine turtles, locally called pawikan, in the northern Palawan town of Dumaran last week.

Like Palawan, Occidental Mindoro boasts of diverse wildlife, Sato said, adding that the Mimaropa Region where the provinces belong to is teeming with natural wonders and diversity of wildlife.

Mindoro island is host to the iconic Philippine tamaraw, also known as the Mindoro dwarf buffalo—a critically endangered endemic species found only on the island. 

It is also a pathway of migratory marine wildlife, including marine turtles, making it vulnerable to wildlife trafficking as well.

Sato said the turtles were discovered in a large motorboat off the shore of Barangay Bacao.

The police have filed charges for violation of the Wildlife Act against two individuals identified only as Rico Gonzales and Kim Aristotiles from Taytay.

“We need to intensify the campaign against wildlife trafficking and go after unscrupulous individuals who mercilessly hunt our already threatened wildlife,” said  Sato, a member of the House committee on ecology.

She said Cimatu, as a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has the military expertise and experience which he can use to combat the rampant illegal wildlife trade.

“I appeal to Secretary Cimatu to do something to protect our precious wildlife, too. Prevention is always better than cure. We can save them from wildlife trafficking,” she added.

The Philippines is one of the 17 mega-diverse countries in the world but at the same time, it is also one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots due to the rapid rate of biodiversity loss.

Sato noted that wildlife trafficking is being facilitated, if not perpetrated, by locals themselves.

“We should work doubly hard to protect our biodiversity against all forms of environmental terrorism that undermine our natural wealth—­­including our already endangered and threatened wildlife before they become extinct,” the lawmaker added.

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