A 16-foot male saltwater crocodile was killed by the kin of his attack victim in the tidal mouth of a river in Barangay Salang, Balabac island town, Tuesday evening.
Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) Staff spokesperson Jovic Fabello identified the fifth victim of a crocodile attack this year as 20-year-old fisherman Junick Husin, a resident of Salang.
His companion, a certain Edgar Legazpi, survived the attack of the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) that happened around 7:30 p.m. on October 8.
Fabello said Husin and Legazpi went out to the sea riding a small paddle banca at that time to catch squid just close to the shore.
On the water, their paddle banca hit a hard object which they thought was floating driftwood, he said.
Fabello said Legazpi and the victim realized too late that it was a crocodile lying idle on the water, waiting for its prey.
“Ang attacker is a Crocodylus porosus, 16 feet — malaki ito. Dominant male ito malamang doon sa lugar kasi hindi ba nag-ma-maintain sila ng territory? Ang istorya ng tao namin, namangka daw itong dalawa para manghuli ng pusit, ‘yong pahila sa bangka. Habang namamangka sila, nabunggo nila ‘yong buwaya — ito ang kuwento — akala daw nila kahoy lang na palutang-lutang ‘yong buwaya,” he said.
Fabello said the impact split the paddle banca vertically. The crocodile then managed to grab Husin by the neck and pulled him underwater.
Legazpi was able to jump away from the boat and swim ashore to ask for help from the relatives of the victim.
“Noong palubog na ‘yong bangka, nakatalon daw itong si Edgar Legazpi. Ang naiwan sa bangka itong si Junick, ‘yon naiwan siya — kasi may mga bite marks daw ‘yong bangka — so, naiwan siya, siya ‘yong inatake ng buwaya at kinagat nga sa leeg,” he said.
According to Balabac police chief Lt. Nebuchadnezzar Matrio, Husin’s father Geliran and his brother Saddam went to search for the crocodile to rescue him.
When they saw the reptile with Husin’s neck in its mouth, they killed it, hoping they will be able to rescue the victim alive.
“Tatay at ang kapatid ang nakakuha at naka-recover dito sa biktima, si Saddam kapatid ng victim at si Geliram tatay ng victim. Inaalam ko pa kung paano napatay [‘yong crocodile,] kung anong ginamit nila. Opo sila nga ang nakapatay, sinaksak siguro nila ito,” he said.
Matrio said they are still conducting an investigation regarding this.
On the other hand, Fabello said when Geliran and Saddam saw the victim being taken by the crocodile inside a nearby river, they threw dynamites at it.
“Noong naabutan nila ‘yong buwaya, binumbong nila ito ng binumbong at dahil dito namatay ‘yong buwaya at nakuha din nila ‘yong katawan ng biktima,” Fabello said.
He said that under Republic Act 9147, also known as the Wildlife Act, killing a crocodile is punishable by law with penalty inclusions.
However, he said considerations can also be given.
“Under the Wildlife Act, meron silang liability, killing ng isang threatened species. But meron tayong mga considerations naman. Hindi naman ganoon ka-extreme ang PCSD na kung ganoong nakakagat ay kakasuhan na natin ang nakapatay. Syempre kino-consider din natin ang sitwasyon. Kung kagat na ang anak mo, natural instinct ang iligtas siya sa ano mang paraan,” he said. (with a report from Celeste Anna Formoso)