Authorities confiscated an estimated 150 tons of fossilized giant clamshells valued at P250 million in an operation at King’s Paradise Island Resort in Barangay Panitian, Sofronio Española last Monday, June 28.
The operatives arrested one of the suspected owners of the clamshells identified as Eulogio Josos Togonon while his companions Totong Josos, Nonoy Guliman, Vilmor Pajardo, all residents of Brgy. Iraray of the same town, were not present at the island during the raid.
In a report from Coast Guard District Palawan (CGDPal), operatives together with personnel from Coast Guard Intelligence Group Palawan (CGIGPAL), Coast Guard Station Brooke’s Point and DF-332, 2nd Special Operations Unit-Maritime Group (SOU-MG), Naval Intelligence and Security Group (NISG-West), and Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) went to the island to verify reports of illegal collection of giant clam shells.
“Pagdating ng mga operatives sa lugar, isa lang ang naabutan nating tao. ‘Yung tatlo at-large hanggang ngayon, pero kasama silang sasampahan ng reklamo,” Commander Severino Destura, CGDPal deputy commander, said.
After an inventory, the clamshells were turned over to barangay officials of Panitian for custodial safekeeping while charges for violation of Section 27 of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection act, are being prepared against the suspects.
The PCSDS once again issued a reminder against collecting and selling giant clamshells.
PCSDS spokesperson Jovic Fabello said there are certain individuals and groups posing as representative of certain government offices and buying clamshells from residents.
“Ang ginagawa ng mga grupo na ito, parang mga kapitalista sila, sinasabi nila sa mga tao na pwede nang mangolekta tapos papakitaan nila ng directive ng BFAR pero in fact, hindi naman para sa kanila yun, kundi para lang sa BFAR. Definitely nagogoyo nila ang mga tao to collect,” Fabello explained.
He added that aside from fossilized giant clamshells, the groups also collect small live clamshells.