Customs seize misdeclared parcel, finds live python inside

Published October 11, 2020, 5:43 PM

by Hanah Tabios

The authorities of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) recently intercepted a live reticulated python from an outbound parcel in the warehouse of German courier DHL.

According to the BOC, the package was misdeclared as “wood curtains, lanterns, and rattan basket” shipped by a certain “Janrei Fernandez” from Sampaloc, Manila, supposedly bound for New York, in the US. But during the physical examination conducted by a customs examiner, the snake was found inside a rattan basket.  

The seized python was immediately turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for proper handling and care.

The BOC reminded the public that the importation, exportation, and trade of wildlife animals without the necessary permits are penalized under Republic Act 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act) in relation to Republic Act 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act). Violators may face imprisonment of one year and one day to two years and a fine of P2,000 to P200,000.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service commended the BOC for the interception of the species and expressed appreciation for its efforts to counter attempts of wildlife smuggling. 

“In the US, the python is listed as Injurious on the Lacey Act and importation is strictly regulated. Another current issue is the potential risk of spreading zoonotic diseases which we are all suffering due to Covid-19,” Alfred Colby, Senior Special Agent and Regional Attaché for Southeast Asia, said in a letter addressed to the BOC. 

Previous apprehensions of the BOC-NAIA involving smuggling of wildlife animals and species were also commended by the DENR and international bodies, including Traffic South East Asia, a leading international NGO working exclusively on wildlife trade.