PUERTO PRINCESA CITY: The Environment Enforcement Team (EET) of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) has no official figure yet on how many successful operations it has conducted, but it is elated that it is advancing substantially in subduing illegal wildlife trading in Palawan.
PCSDS Information Officer Alex Marcaida expressed this view Wednesday following the arrest of a female suspected illegal wildlife trader on June 24 in Barangay Iraan, Rizal in southern Palawan, and the successful confiscation of 71 endangered talking mynah birds a few hours after.
“After our arrest of the woman for suspected illegal wildlife trafficking, our enforcement team made a confiscation again of numerous talking mynah birds that are already endangered only in a matter of a few hours,” Marcaida told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
He said the endangered birds that are able to mimic human sounds were confiscated in Barangay Alfonso Tres in Quezon town, a neighboring town of Rizal in southern Palawan.
The confiscation, he explained, happened following a tip off from the female suspect, who was abandoned by her husband at the time of her arrest in Rizal.
“She gave us the information that the birds were only with its caretaker; the one that feeds them. Immediately, we sent our team to check out the place, and they found another suspect,” Marcaida said.
The bird feeder, who was arrested, was identified as Ronald Riboy, a resident of Barangay Alfonso Tres.
During investigation, Riboy narrated that he was ordered by a certain Nonoy Flores to feed the birds and bring them in three cages deep in the forest of Alfonso Tres so that their noise will not be detected by the neighbors.
The suspect told the EET that he does not know where Flores is transporting the birds to sell them.
Riboy merely agreed to be the birds’ caretaker because he needed the money he would be paid as two of his six children are sick and his income as a construction worker is not enough.
“I just really needed the money, sir, because I have six children – two are mine, and four are from my wife’s previous relationship – but I am the one feeding all of them, sending them to school and buying all their needs. Two of them are sick. I told myself last week that after this job, I will no longer agree to be caretaker, but I was caught. I just needed the money, sir…” Riboy said.
Marcaida said Riboy’s case is heartbreaking, but the law is the law. “Poverty as a reason for doing the illegal wildlife trade is sad. But the law is the law, and we are mandated to implement it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Marcaida said Flores’ name has been in their list of illegal wildlife traffickers, but arresting him is proving to be difficult as of yet.
Flores has been identified as a local buyer, who brings the wildlife catches in the black markets in Cebu, Batangas and Manila.
“Who we really need to catch are the financiers; those who give Flores the money to be able to continue with his illegal wildlife trading here,” he said.
Marcaida said they have long expressed alarm over the number of confiscations and arrests they have made regarding illegal wildlife trafficking, and they are doing everything to stop it.
“It is very alarming, and at the same time infuriating because for this year alone, and if you look at our trends, we’ve conducted so many operations and we’ve made successful arrests. However, this will only stop if we catch the financiers and the buyers,” he said. PNA