The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) is urging municipalities in the province to identify their flagship wildlife species to protect them against the threats of illegal trading.
Jovic Fabello, information officer of the PCSD Staff, said on Tuesday that there is already a resolution that was passed in December 2017 by the Council regarding the guidelines in the selection and management of flagship species by local government units.
These guidelines can be the basis of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in passing a provincial ordinance that would strengthen the implementation of protecting wildlife species.
Fabello said municipal environment and agriculture officers cannot move to declare their flagship species unless the Sangguniang Panlalawigan acts to approve a provincial ordinance regarding the PCSD’s proposal.
“Ito ay on the process pa at nasa committee level pa ng Sangguniang Panlalawigan. They (municipalities) are still waiting for the ordinance to come out from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Narra has already manifested that their flagship species will be the katala or Philippine cockatoo while other municipalities are still identifying their flagship species,” Fabello said.
Aside from Narra, Fabello said Brooke’s Point has already identified the Bearcat or binturong as its desired flagship species. Once finalized it will be declared through a municipal resolution.
Fabello said the Protect Wildlife project of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has signified interest in drafting the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the flagship project with the technical working group of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan once the ordinance has been finalized.
Edwin Caabay, project development officer of PCSD, said that there should be a study of the reproductive period or breeding season of these threatened and endangered species for the LGUs to come up with plans and programs to conserve specific wildlife species, particularly those that are being hunted.
“Kaya merong mga pag-aaral kung anong buwan ang nesting season o breeding season nitong mga birds o wild animals kasi paano sila dadami kung masa-sacrifice sila? Yun ang gap wala pang study,” he said.
“Kailangan natin silang mapanatili. Kailangan na mayroong ahensya o foundation, na yung specific species na yun ang magiging flagship nila,” he added.
Indigenous peoples (IP) belonging to the Batak who are settled within the Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat (CNCH) in Barangay Concepcion hunt and eat the Flying lemur, locally known as buyatat, since it is considered as a special food, said 54-year old Anita Mijares.
“Ang buyatat ay para syang bising na may pakpak. Yan ay special namin na ulam, iihawin lang namin. Ito ay kultura namin at hindi namin pwede kalimutan,” she said.
Aside from the Flying lemur, their families and relatives also hunt wild pigs, fowls, and others in the forest. This is the reason why they raised dogs to help them in hunting the animals as food.
Mijares showed the tools they use, one of which is bow and arrow known as pana, and bankaw, a metallic spear with a wooden handle made of yantok.
“Dun kami binubuhay ng mga magulang namin. Hindi kami marunong mag-trabaho sa bayan kundi nangunguha lang ng baboy damo at mga hayop sa gubat,” she said.
Mijares said she considers buyatat as part of their identity, in fact, the tail of the Flying lemur is displayed and worn as part of their indigenous attire.
Florencio Alcantara, 80 years old and member of the Batak tribe in Tagnaya, Barangay Concepcion, said he was almost killed by a wild boar that bit him in the stomach. He also showed marks and scars in various parts of his body, as proof that he survived the wild boar’s attack sometime in the 1990s.
Caabay said while the indigenous peoples are covered by Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) that allows them to hunt and eat wild animals as food as part of their culture and tradition, these IP communities need also to consider a specific season not to hunt them to allow them to reproduce.
“Dapat ay i-consider din nila na ma-protektahan ang mga buyatat, kung hindi ay paano ma-sustain yung source of food nila?” he asked.