Environment and law enforcement authorities have seized more than a thousand kilos of empty giant “taklobo” shells from four local illegal traders in Barangay Casian, Taytay.
Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) spokesperson Jovic Fabello said Carlo Cutanda, Carlito Paduga, Eduardo Oplas, and Erwin Durana were apprehended Thursday morning by their joint team after receiving a tip from the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) of Taytay and placing them under surveillance.
“Meron din itong tip galing sa local government unit (LGU) ng Taytay. Then nag-surveillance kami sa kanila kasama din ang LGU ng Taytay. Noong positive na, in-apprehend na namin kasama ‘yong mga personnel ng municipal police station ng Taytay. Sa dagat sila mismo nahuli,” Fabello said.
Fabello said they were apprehended on the water at the back of the Pabellon Island rockscape while collecting the giant clams.
The collected giant clam species were Tridacna deresa, Tridacna maxima, Tridacna gigas, and Tridacna squamosa, all classified as “protected” under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).
“Caught in the act na nangunguha sila. But allegedly, meron silang pinag-iimbakan nito and nakita sila na saktong nangunguha ng taklobo,” he said.
He said the modus is that the suspects collect the giant clams, separate the meat and sell them, and trade the shells to their buyer.
Fabello said they were in their office Friday morning for inquest following their filing of charges for violation of R.A. 9147 or “Wildlife Act”, which prohibits “collecting, hunting, or possessing wildlife, their by-products, and derivatives.”
Giant clams help maintain the health of coral reefs by providing food and shelter for reef fishes and filtering the waters. However, its population is now rapidly declining.
He said they believe that the apprehended illegal giant clam traders have been collecting them for a long time in the waters of Taytay municipality.
“Most probably matagal na nilang ginagawa pero ngayon lang sila nahuli. Parang aphrodisiac din kasi itong laman dahil edible at may kakaiba rin na lasa. Plus ‘yong shell namin ginagawang mga lamps, pang-decors, o di kaya mga lababo,” Fabello said.
Following the operations, the PCSD Staff is appealing to the public to report immediately to authorities any person who will be found possessing or collecting giant clams.
The operation was carried out by the PCSD Enforcement Team with PNP Taytay, and MAO of LGU Taytay.