Wildlife products estimated to value around P700,000 were seized from suspected traders in Taytay, a northern town in Palawan recently.
P/Capt. Ric Ramos, spokesperson of Provincial Police Office (PPO), on Thursday identified the suspects as Rachell Agodo Dimasupil, 27; Alvin Reyes Balaoing, 33; Maricel Tajala Lim, 35; Harate Hail Edaloson, 38; Christina Codilla Buhat, 30; and Cheryl Beya De Guzman, 38; who were apprehended late Wednesday.
De Guzman claimed co-ownership of around 78 kilograms of dried seahorses and endangered seadragons and named a certain Chinese “business partner”, Gouhua Song, 48, who remains at large.
“Sinasabing Chinese ang may-ari na nasa Manila. Ang front nila ay pagbili ng daing na pusit pero nag-e-engage nga sila sa trade ng illegal wildlife,” Ramos said.
Jovic Fabello, spokesperson of Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), said that such threatened species were usually traded in powder form as an aphrodisiac and traditional Chinese medicine.
“Since they were found in possession of wildlife, it will now undergo the case build of PCSD,” Fabello said.
The suspects were apprehended aboard a Ford pick-up with plate number GPS 160 owned by a certain Remy T. Segura, resident of Bacolod City and currently staying at Barangay Liminangcong of the said town.
Acting on an earlier intelligence report, a police checkpoint was conducted by the Taytay Municipal Police Station (MPS) led by P/Capt. Roel A. Tattao. The team smelled a foul odor coming from the boxes at the back portion of the said vehicle. Upon checking, the law enforcers found more or less 27 kilograms of seahorses and 78 kilograms of endangered seadragons amounting to around P700,000, without necessary documents from the proper authorities.
The suspects arrived at the Puerto Princesa City Thursday afternoon where they will undergo inquest proceedings.
The seized wildlife products are now in the custody of PCSD, as the culprits face charges against Republic Act (RA) 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
(With reports from Jayra Joyce Taboada and Ruth Rodriguez)