DENR-BMB renews call for stronger measures to combat illegal wildlife trade

DENR-BMB renews call for stronger measures to combat illegal wildlife trade

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — On World Animal Day, the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR) has reiterated its call for the approval of
two Senate bills that seek to strengthen Republic Act 9147 or the
Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

In a statement, DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Datu
Tungko M. Saikol said it is high time to amend the gaps in the law two
decades after its implementation.

“We commend the House of Representatives for passing House Bill 9833
revising the Wildlife Act of 2001 on third and final reading, and call
on our good Senators to pass Senate Bills No. 2078 and 2079 to
strengthen our fight against wildlife crimes. Almost 20 years after
the Wildlife Act took effect, the threat of extinction of wildlife
species in the Philippines is still not far behind, wreaking havoc to
our biodiversity that supports our livelihood and economy,” Saikol
said on Monday, October 4.

“Illegal wildlife trade, which is the second biggest threat to species
survival globally, increases the risks of zoonotic diseases, or the
transfer of diseases from animal to humans, leading to outbreaks,”
Saikol said. “With the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, it
is imperative to pass a strengthened wildlife conservation and
protection law without delay,” he also asserted.

Saikol also mentioned that the law, once amended, will effectively
deter wildlife trafficking not only in the country, but also in other
global destination points. “As a result, it will prevent if not
eliminate the incidence, at least in the Philippines, of another
infectious disease such as Covid-19, which originated in animals and
caused unprecedented loss of human lives worldwide,” he also said.

SB No. 2078 and SB No. 2079, filed by Senator Cynthia Villar and
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, respectively, seek the
imposition of stronger and more specific penalties, the strengthening
of enforcement capacity, and the removal of legal loopholes exploited
by illegal wildlife traders.

From 2010 to 2020, more than 67,500 wildlife specimens worth at least
P248M were confiscated from 523 suspected law violators. At least 153
criminal complaints have been filed in court, with 29 cases resolved
and 47 criminals convicted.

The Philippines, among the world’s 17 mega-diverse countries that host
two-thirds of the Earth’s biodiversity, has become an important
source, transit, and destination point for illegal wildlife trade,
which is now the fourth largest illegal trade worldwide behind illegal
drugs, arms, and human trafficking.

The value of illegal wildlife trade in the country is estimated at P50
billion yearly or $1 billion, including the market value of wildlife
and its resources, their ecological role and value, damage to
habitats, and loss in potential ecotourism revenues. (ai/mtvn)

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