DENR seizes P300,000 worth of threatened plant species in Quezon
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) seized 34 sacks of illegally collected stems of the threatened Philippine bantigue in Quezon last August 9.
DENR's Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife, also known as Task Force POGI, confiscated at least 6 bags containing freshly cut bantigue stems, and several others containing dried stems often used as raw materials for accessories and firewood.
The seized sacks of bantigue were estimated to cost around P300,000 ($5,624.14).
The suspect was identified as 39-year-old bonsai trader Pedrito Fabros who was caught red-handed during an operation in a residential house in Barangay Umiray, General Nakar, Quezon.
The DENR has already filed a case against Fabros for violating provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
Collection, selling, and transport of threatened and exotic wildlife species such as bantigue (Pemphis adicula) are prohibited under RA 9147 and punishable by 6-year imprisonment and a fine amounting up to P200,000 ($3,749.73).
The DENR is also looking into possible violations of Presidential Decree No. 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said that the government remains resolute on the fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
"We will continue to hunt for perpetrators who use the natural resources for illegal purposes and for their own selfish interests," Cimatu said.
Bantigue, commonly used for creating bonsai, is listed in DENR Administrative Order 2017-11 under category of threatened Philippine plants. It also falls under the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. – Rappler.com
P53.34 = $1