Senator Nancy Binay on Friday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to beef up its information campaign to let plant enthusiasts know about the penalties of collecting and selling plants that are considered “critically endangered.”
Binay said it is imperative that the DENR is able to inform “plantitos” and “plantitas” about the penalties they could face under the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act should they be caught collecting rare plant species that are protected by the government.
The senator noted there are more poachers now due to the rising demand for plants.
“I think it’s best to look into the agency’s information campaign because we have so many plant enthusiasts right now (and) they may unknowingly be buying plants that are already in the list of endangered species,” Binay said during the Senate’s hearing into the DENR’s proposed P25.5-billion budget for 2021.
“For instance, ‘waling-waling,’ for a time is considered an endangered species but due to science and technology, luckily breeders were able to propagate ‘waling-waling’,” she pointed out.
DENR Assistance Secretary Ricardo Calderon assured that the agency is doing its part informing the public to be aware of the country’s wildlife conservation law through various social media platforms.
“We emphasize to the public that under the Wildlife Act, we cannot just be careless in gathering plants from our forests,” Calderon said in his response to Binay.
“They might be gathering plants considered threatened and critically endangered plants like the feature plant which we are trying to preserve because this is already endemic to us, in the Philippines,” he explained, adding that the law carries criminal and administrative charges for those who will violate the law.
The DENR, however, has yet to provide the Senate specific details about its information campaign on plant collection.
The agency was then asked to submit to the committee a briefer on their information campaign program aimed at protecting critically endangered plant species from being poached.
Calderon assured that the protection of plant species is also covered by the DENR’s Protection Area Management program, to ensure that the gene pool for the country’s flora and fauna are sheltered and tended in their habitats.