The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has brought justice to the “voiceless wildlife species” after securing a conviction against a wildlife trader who was behind the illegal shipment of some 700 pieces of live tarantulas last year.
“The growing number of illegal trading cases prompts us to make environmental law enforcement as one of the priorities in the DENR,” DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said in a statement.
Last Nov. 20, the Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 48 convicted Jesse Camaro for illegally transporting 757 tarantulas with an estimated value of P310,900 and Customs duties and taxes amounting to P54,752.
Camaro was found guilty of violating Republic Act (RA) 9147 or the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act and sentenced to six months imprisonment and fined P20,000.
He was also fined P100,000 for violating Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
Cimatu said the decision is “a testimony of DENR’s effectiveness in bringing justice to the voiceless wildlife species.”
The tarantulas were seized in April 2019 by the DENR Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade or Task Force POGI, in cooperation with the Bureau of Customs.
Task Force POGI is a composite team of wildlife enforcers from various agencies, including the Biodiversity Management Bureau, National Bureau of Investigation, and Philippine National Police.
Cimatu has been calling for the creation of the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau (EPEB) under the DENR, which should be “a priority law to protect those in the frontlines of environmental protection efforts.”
According to Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force Executive Director Nilo Tamoria, the creation of EPEB would not only help save lives of the enforcers, but also “make DENR more effective in enforcing environmental laws.”
“If we have an enforcement bureau, we would have more flexibility and advantage in prosecuting the individuals who continue to violate our environmental laws,” Tamoria said.
He pointed out that the pandemic has not hindered the illegal wildlife traders to take advantage of the situation and continue their activities that are against the law.
“It gives us more impetus on running after environmental crimes with the support we are getting from the legislature, especially with the increasing number of legislators manifesting their co-sponsorship to the EPEB Bill,” Tamoria said.