The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) expressed support on Wednesday, July 7, to the proposed amendment of the wildlife protection law in a bid to strengthen wildlife conservation in the country.
DENR Undersecretary for Special Concerns and Biodiversity Management Bureau Chief Edilberto Leonardo said that revising the 20-year-old Republic Act (RA) No.9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 is part of the department’s agenda to establish an effective and modern framework of law that would address the problem of illegal wildlife trade in the country.
The measure provides for the necessary environmental policy to enable the Philippine government to manage and conserve local wildlife resources comprehensively.
“Kailangan ng mas mabisa, modern, at mas malakas na batas para tugunan ang lumalaking problemang illegal wildlife trade sa bansa. Magkakaroon nang details kung gaano kalaki yung penalty, same na rin sa criminal offense, at lalawakan yung coverage dito sa bagong batas (There is a need for a more effective, modern, and stronger law to address the growing problem of illegal wildlife trade in the country. There will be details on how big the penalty is, the same as for the criminal offense, and the coverage will be expanded here in the proposed new law),” Leonardo said during the press conference of the pre-National Environmental Law Enforcement (NELE) summit.
Leonardo said that under the proposed new law, the jail term for violators will be increased up to 20 years. A bigger fine will also be slapped against them.
Under the proposal, wildlife trafficking will be defined and treated as a “distinct and separate offense” that shall come with a “severe penalty.”
DENR Undersecretary for Enforcement Benito de Leon said the amendment of the law will also regulate the entry of exotic species in the country.
“Kasama na doon ‘yung pagtalaga ng mga lugar kung saan dadalhin ‘yung mga mahuhuling hayop or kaya threatened species kasama na rin pag-authorize or pag-issue sa (This includes designating areas where the captured animals or threatened species will be taken, as well as authorizing) local government units (LGUs) if necessary so that we can strengthen and control the [conservation of wildlife],” De Leon said.
Meanwhile, DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said that they will also see to it that LGUs will play a huge role in strengthening the information, education, and communication campaign of the agency to conserve wildlife in the country.
Last March, Senator Cynthia Villar filed Senate Bill (SB) No.2078, also known as “An Act Strengthening The Wildlife Conservation And Protection Mechanism In The Philippines,” in the effort to amend RA No.9147.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who filed a similar proposal on the matter, has likewise lamented the continued degradation of the environment and illegal collection of wildlife resources.