A 33-year-old man was arrested Saturday by environment and law enforcement authorities in Barangay Pasadeña, El Nido in a joint operation that saved 20 live pangolins (balintong), the most poached animal, from the illegal wildlife trade.
Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) chief Allan Valle in Taytay identified him as Wilter Tenorio, alias Walter and Ariel Tenorio, a resident of Brgy. Teneguiban, also in the same municipality.
“Mabuti buhay itong mga pangolin na nakumpiska sa kanya. Nailigtas ang mga balintong mula sa illegal wildlife trading,” Valle said.
CENRO Taytay/Quick Response Team (QRT) leader and forest technician 1 Voltaire delos Angeles said they have been monitoring Tenorio who attempted to sell the pangolins (Manis culionensis) around four days ago in Barangay Mabini.
He said to avoid detection and curiosity, Tenorio has been transferring the pangolins hidden in crates made of wood from place-to-place until he was finally arrested.
“Nagsimula ‘yong transaction na ‘yan sa Mabini. Sinundan ng sinundan ng mga tao namin kasi nilipat nila ng nilipat ‘yong mga pangolin. Nasundan siya hanggang dito sa Pasadeña at hindi na ma-locate noong four days ago. Kagabi siya na-locate at ‘yon na mga alas dose, nag-stakeout sila hanggang alas dos ng madaling araw hanggang nakuha siya bandang mga alas syete,” said Delos Angeles.
“Nag-resist pa itong suspect bago siya nakuha. Notorious talaga ito sa iligal na gawain dito sa El Nido at maraming ginagamit na alyas. Actually, sa Cadlao meron silang apprehension ng mga iligal na pinutol na kahoy, isa din ito sa mga na-apprehend kaya lang nag-resist ng arrest at nakatakbo,” he added.
The pangolins were found when Tenorio’s caretaker was feeding them inside their crates and plastic drums, he added.
Delos Angeles said Tenorio is not a pangolin catcher but a buyer for a wildlife trafficker who is based in Quezon town, southern Palawan.
He did not give the name of the person due to follow-up operations being conducted, but he said the pangolins were supposed to be picked up on January 26 by a boat that will come from Quezon.
Considered to be highly-trafficked, he said Tenorio bought the pangolins from trappers and catchers based in the towns of Taytay, El Nido, and Roxas.
“Ang kuwento niya, pinapadalhan siya ng pera ng financier, may mga nakita kaming receipts ng mga perang pinapadala. ‘Yong tao daw na ‘yon ang nagpapadala sa kanya at ‘yong mga pangolin ay dinala lang sa kanya. Napatunayan natin na siya talaga ang namimili kasi andoon sa cellphone niya may nagte-text from Sandoval na sinasabing ‘dito mayroon akong tatlong kilo’, ganoon,” Delos Angeles said.
He said even birds and spiny anteaters (durian) are being sold to Tenorio.
The joint operation was carried out by the Bantay Palawan Task Force, Naval Forces West, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Joint Task Force Malampaya, 3rd Marine Company ng MBLT 3, Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Taytay-Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Tenorio and the recovered pangolins will be turned over to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) for the filing of charges for violation of Republic Act No. 9147 or the Philippine Wildlife Act.