The 2nd Special Operations Unit-Maritime Group discovered a covert operation involving the sale of live pangolins through online transactions following a rescue operation over the weekend in Barangay Culandanum, Bataraza.

During their investigation into the incident that happened on June 22, authorities learned that sellers are now opting to leave the endangered wildlife species, including pangolins, in predetermined “drop zone” areas instead of conducting physical exchanges.

The transaction is completed when the buyer picks up the animal from these zones, often using online payment methods like GCash. This new method was identified at an abandoned house used as a pickup point in Bataraza.

Police Captain Anna Viola Abenojar, spokesperson for the maritime police in Palawan, explained that traffickers used an abandoned house as their drop area, where the buyer simply picks up the animal.

“Itong sa Bataraza, napag-alaman natin na drop area nila itong abandoned house at doon na lang ipi-pick up ng buyer [ang pangolin],” she said.

This approach helps sellers and buyers evade monitoring by authorities, minimizing the risk of being caught and prosecuted under the law.

Abenojar said the incident in question involved the rescue of a live pangolin weighing 7.5 kilograms and measuring 50 centimeters in width from the abandoned house in Culandanum.

The ongoing investigation aims to crack down on this illicit trade practice, with cooperation from local barangays and the community.

She pointed out that those involved in selling or capturing these animals will be held accountable under the Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.