The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) admits that it is having difficulty monitoring illegal plant trading online, especially in “plantito and plantita” Facebook groups, but is actively looking for solutions to solve the problem.
Plant enthusiasts found to be trading endemic and/or endangered Palawan plants may face charges for violating the Philippine Wildlife Act (Republic Act 9147).
According to PCSD staff spokesperson Jovic Fabello, that the council lacks the technical know-how to monitor endemic or endangered plants being traded or sold on Facebook groups, which have become popular amidst the global pandemic. He explained that they mostly rely on reports by concerned citizens.
“May mga nagrereport sa aming Facebook page na may mga nagbebenta nga ng mga endemic plants sa mga [Facebook] groups. Noong una, nag-issue lang kami ng warning. Pero nahihirapan kami sa technological aspect ng pagmo-monitor,” said Fabello in a series of interviews.
“We are trying to find ways to infiltrate [those groups]. Ang nakita naming challenge is kapag nag-join ka sa groups, may background check pa ‘yon, malalaman nilang taga-PCSD ka,” he added.
Fabello added that they are also planning to conduct an information campaign to educate the public on which plants cannot be taken from the wild and traded, sold, or planted outside their natural habitat. However, the council needs to consolidate their list of endangered plant species with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Fabello reminded “plantitos and plantitas” of Palawan to be aware of the plants they collect or trade, be it online or offline, of their status in the wild.
“Sa ating mga plant enthusiasts, mayroon namang mga tanim na regulated na puwede nating ibenta sa market, basta mayroon silang tamang permit. Pero ‘yong mga threatened species natin na nasa gubat, which I believe na kinokolekta nila na walang paalam sa gobyerno, ‘yan ay mahigpit na ipinagbabawal ng batas,” he said.
“Under the Wildlife Act, kapag walang certificate of origin ‘yan, ibig sabihin galing sa nursery, o may permit na pagtanim lalo na kung threatened species ‘yan, pinagbabawal talaga ‘yan,” he added.