By Hannah LTorregoza
Senator Nancy Binay has filed a resolution urging the Senate to probe the rising illegal online wildlife trade in the Philippines saying the country’s environmental laws should be strictly enforced even through the Internet.
Binay, in filing Senate Bill No. 961, said it is high-time the Senate investigates the information regarding wildlife online trade happening through social media platforms like Facebook.
The senator said a report from the Department of Environment and Natural Resurces (DENR) alleged that some buyers and sellers are cunningly using Facebook to hide their identities to avoid law enforcement in doing their illegal transactions.
“Like in other countries, illegal wildlife trade in the Philippines is evolving along with the technological evolution that led to the development of high-tech gadgets that can access the Internet,” Binay said.
“Aided by advanced technology—smartphones, Internet technology and the ever-growing popularity of social media, illegal wildlife trade on the Internet is fast becoming the new trend,” she said.
She said the buying and selling of wild-caught or harvested plants and animals has become an even more lucrative trade, with the easy access to a bigger market and extended reach through the Internet.
This is despite strong environmental laws, particularly Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 and RA 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Act System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 as amended by RA 11038 or the Expanded Nipas Act of 2018 in the Philippines.
Binay said that based on a brochure provided by the DENR titled “Addressing the Illegal Wildlife Trade in the Philippines,” the most traded species in the Philippines namely Philippine forest turtles, Palawan pangolin, Hawskbill turtle, blue-naped parrot, Southeast Asian box turtle, Hill mynah, Asian leaf turtle, and Tockay gecko between 1996 and 2009.
Also, based on the confiscation data, major poaching sites in the Philippines are Coron, El Nido, Taytay, Narra, Quezon, Rizal, Half Moon Shoal, Balabac Major Turtle Islands, Mapun, Agusan del Norte, Bukidnon, Aurora, Samar, Leyte and Bohol.
“Stricter policies and regulations in trading wildlife as well as in issuing permits to sell must be strictly implemented; moreover, social media and online selling portals must be utilized in identifying illegal traders of endangered species,” she said.