Over a hundred police and military personnel were honored for their contribution to wildlife crime enforcement and the overall fight against illegal wildlife trade during the local celebration of the World Wildlife Day organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on March 3.
The recognition, which was the DENR’s way of thanking its partners for their help in the enforcement of wildlife laws, was held at the headquarters of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) inside the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City.
Medals and certificates of commendation were given to a total of 112 awardees, consisting of 93 officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP), 15 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), two operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and two employees of the Department of Transportation and Communications.
DENR Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio described the awardees as “unsung heroes” in the battle against illegal wildlife trade.
“We at the DENR are only as strong in combating illegal wildlife trade as the unwavering support we get from these organizations,” Ignacio said, referring to the PNP, AFP and NBI.
Despite strides in wildlife crime crackdown, Ignacio said much needs to be done given that the Philippines is listed as one of the hotspots in Southeast Asia for illegal wildlife trade. “This is a challenge that we face, a challenge we must succeed,” he said.
The World Wildlife Day celebration also brought together representatives from international and local organizations actively supporting the DENR’s wildlife protection efforts, including the United Nations Aid for International Development (USAID) and pro-environment groupTanggol Kalikasan. This year’s theme is “Wildlife crime is serious; let’s get serious about wildlife crime.”
The honorees were involved in risky covert operations, often conducting 24-hour stakeout surveillance running for days or weeks. They seldom pose as middlemen or buyers during operations organized by the DENR-led Philippine Operation Group on Ivory (POGI).
Formed in June 2013, POGI runs after illegal cross border trade of ivory and other wildlife.
During one of POGI’s operations, a senior ranking NBI officer in Zamboanga City disguised himself as a rich Japanese trader to catch a big-time black coral smuggler. This led to the arrest of a certain Earl Galupo and the confiscation of 24 sacks of hard and black corals and 30 sacks stalactites, as well as 31 pieces of hawksbill turtles and 61 giant clams.
In 2014 alone, the group was able to confiscate and rescue at least 1,400 threatened wildlife species valued at around P7.1 million, and filed criminal charges against 24 individuals for violation of Section 27 of Republic Act No. 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangers Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora or CITES adopted in 2012 a resolution declaring March 3 of every year as the World Wildlife Day. The declaration was reaffirmed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2013.
Posted By: Lynne Pingoy