Authorities arrested a police officer while social workers took custody of two teenagers who were with him for hunting bats in General Santos City on Sunday afternoon, July 18.
Police seized 59 dead large flying fox bats (Pteropus vampyrus) from the group as well as a 12-gauge shotgun and motorcycles.
Maria Elvira Lumayag, community environment officer, identified the cop as Staff Sergeant Ibañez Faldas, 33, of the municipal police station of Polomolok, South Cotabato province.
Lumayag said they chanced upon Faldas and the minors, ages 15 and 17, in Purok Guadalupe in Conel village, General Santos City.
Authorities could not say if the minors and the policeman were related, but all of them were from Polomolok town.
The large flying fox belongs to the largest bat species in the world. It has long pointed ears and a dog-like or fox-like face and head.
Lumayag said the Pteropus vampyrus was important to humans considering that it was a pollinator and seed disperser. The bat plays a significant role in maintaining forest structure in places where it inhabits.
The bats were sometimes hunted for food or killed because they were seen as farm pests.
The large flying fox bats is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a threatened species with its population already in significant decline due to hunting and the destruction of its primary habitats.
Lumayag said Faldas was facing a case for violation of Republic Act 9147 or the Act Providing for the Conservation and Protection of Wildlife Resources and their Habitat.
Faldas was placed in the custody of the Police Precinct 4 in San Isidro, General Santos while awaiting charges, while the teenagers were turned over to the Bahay Pag-asa, a facility for delinquent juveniles in Barangay Sinawal. – Rappler.com