MANILA – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has won a legal case against a wildlife trader who was behind the illegal shipment of over 700 pieces of live tarantulas intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last year.
In a seven-page decision dated Nov. 20, Judge Allan B. Ariola of the Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 48 has convicted Jesse Camaro for illegally transporting 757 pieces of tarantula with an estimated value of PHP310,900 and customs duties and taxes amounting to PHP54,752.
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 PHP20,000. He was also fined PHP100,000 for violating RA 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the decision is “a testimony of DENR’s effectiveness in bringing justice to the voiceless wildlife species”.
“The growing number of illegal trading cases prompts us to make environmental law enforcement as one of the priorities in the DENR,” Cimatu said.
Cimatu had earlier said the bill creating the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau (EPEB) under the DENR should be “a priority law to protect those in the frontlines of environmental protection efforts”.
The DENR’s Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade or Task Force POGI, in cooperation with the Bureau of Customs seized the tarantulas in April 2019.
Task Force POGI is a composite team of wildlife enforcers from various agencies, including the Biodiversity Management Bureau, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police.
Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force Executive Director Nilo Tamoria said 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.
Tamoria noted 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. (PNA)