MANILA, Philippines – A Quezon City court has convicted a wildlife trader for selling a green iguana, an endangered species, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said on Wednesday, April 3.
In a statement on Wednesday, the DENR said that the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 36 convicted wildlife trader Harriet Shelley Velarde for violating Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.
In the decision penned by Presiding Judge Carlo Villarama, the court sentenced Velarde to one year and a day to two years in jail, and ordered her to pay a P200,000-fine,
The decision was promulgated on March 13.
The DENR filed the case against Velarde, who was caught selling a green iguana during an entrapment operation on July 2018.
The court dimissed Velarde’s denial of owning the green iguana.
“The bare denial of the accused carries little weight as against the overwhelming positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses,” the court said.
The National Bureau of Investigation-Environmental Crime Division arrested Velarde in an entrapment operation on July 18, 2018. (READ: The unsung lives of illegal wildlife trade cops)
During the investigation, authorities found out that Velarde did not have a certificate of wildlife registration or other necessary permits from the DENR to allow her to keep the iguana.
The green iguana, a native reptile in South America, is on the endangered species list in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
In 2018, the DENR and other law enforcement agencies conducted 10 operations and filed 7 criminal cases against 15 wildlife crime perpetrators. (READ: ASEAN wages war against illegal wildlife trade)
During the operations, the government recovered more than 2,000 heads of various wild animals, and more than 3,000 plants. Over 100 kilos of raw and stewed marine turtle meat was also confiscated, valued at P57 million.
Just last month, the Bureau of Customs and DENR’s Task Force Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife intercepted a shipment of more than 1,500 heads of turtles and tortoises at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, as reported by the PNA. – Rappler.com
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