Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has ordered the strict monitoring of wildlife shipments entering or leaving the country as part of the government's intensified campaign against poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Cimatu recently issued a memorandum directing all regional directors of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to beef up surveillance at ports of entry in order to curb wildlife trafficking.
He also instructed the DENR field officials to monitor activities in marketplaces and other establishments that are engaged in wildlife trade.
"It is about time that we strictly enforce the provisions of Republic Act No. 9147, also known as the Wildlife Resources and Protection Act, in order for us to address the problem of wildlife trafficking in the country," Cimatu said.
At the same time, he directed the DENR regional directors to work on increasing public awareness of the need to protect wildlife resources.
"We also need to heighten our information campaign to effectively raise awareness and educate the public about wildlife crimes and how local communities can help protect and conserve the country's rich biological diversity," Cimatu told the regional directors.
Cimatu said that the regional offices must establish "collaborative mechanisms" with all concerned agencies, local government units and the media to ensure cohesive efforts and transparency in law enforcement.
"The DENR needs to work more closely with its partners, including local communities and law enforcement agencies, in detecting and preventing wildlife crimes," he pointed out.
Cimatu, meanwhile, vowed that the DENR will use the full force of the law to go after perpetrators of wildlife crimes.
He cited the case of two individuals whom the DENR-attached agency Palawan Council for Sustainable Development sued in court for their involvement in the death of 70 marine turtles or pawikan in the Palawan town of Dumaran last month.
The suspects, identified as Rico Gonzales and Kim Artistotiles, were charged and arrested for violation of Section 27 of RA 9147, which prohibits the collection, hunting and possession of wildlife, including its by-products and derivatives, and their transport without the necessary permit.
Source: Department of Environment and Natural Resources