Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu said the recent conviction of illegal wildlife traders show that the law remains stringent for all environmental criminals amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The DENR cited Bacoor City Municipal Trial Court conviction of Joselito Laygan last Dec. 10.
In February 2016, Laygan was caught in the act of selling cave resources without the necessary permits during an entrapment operation conducted by the Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife (Task Force POGI), a composite team of wildlife enforcers from various agencies, including the Biodiversity Management Bureau, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police.
He was found guilty of violating Section 7 of Republic Act 9072, or the National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act.
Such provision states that “gathering, collecting, possessing, consuming, selling, bartering, or exchanging or offering for sale without authority for any cave resource is prohibited.”
As penalty, Lagyan was ordered to pay P300,000.
At the same time, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in Cavite was directed to coordinate with the court for the turnover of the cave resources to the DENR for proper disposition.
This new development came just a week after the DENR reported the conviction of a wildlife trader, who was behind the illegal shipment of over 700 live tarantulas intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in 2019.
Jesse Camaro was found guilty of illegally transporting 757 pieces of tarantula with an estimated value of P310,900 and Customs duties and taxes amounting to P54,752.
He was sentenced to six months imprisonment and fined P20,000 in violation of the provisions of RA 9147, or the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act.
He was also fined P100,000 for violating RA 10863, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
Cimatu said the twin victories were “an affirmation of the agency’s commitment to hold illegal wildlife traders accountable for their crimes against the Filipino people and the environment.”
“This decision comes at an opportune time when culprits are taking advantage of the challenges in travel and mobility of our environmental law enforcers,” he added.
“We want to show these environmental criminals how stringent the law is even in the middle of this crisis,” he said.