Photo of the entrapped saltwater crocodile in Barangay Caruray in San Vicente town, which was allegedly shot and killed on October 21 by a barangay kagawad. (Contributed photo via Rouel Gasis Caralipio/DZIP Radyo Palaweño)

The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) has launched an investigation into the alleged slaughtering last month of a saltwater crocodile in Barangay Caruray, San Vicente municipality.

PCSDS spokesman Jovic Fabello said Wednesday that the inquiry was launched in response to reports that a barangay official in Caruray shot on October 21 an entrapped saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and butchered it for its meat.

He said the incident happened after they conducted an information drive about crocodile conversation in San Vicente with the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRRC) on the first week of October.

“Katatapos lang pa naman ng IEC namin doon tungkol sa buwaya with PWRCC. Hindi ko pa matantya ang laki kasi picture lang [ang meron],” Fabello said.

“Galing na doon kanina (November 3) ang enforcement unit namin. Nakausap na din yong barangay kagawad na allegedly bumaril sa buwaya. Dini-deny niya,” he added, stating that no witnesses were willing to provide details on the occurrence at the time.

Fabello did not also disclose the name of the barangay kagawad pending the result of their investigation.

Under Section 27 of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, unless otherwise allowed in accordance with the law, it is unlawful for any person to wilfully and knowingly exploit wildlife resources and habitats, or undertake the “killing and destroying of wildlife species, except in some instances”.

“Ang penalties ay imprisonment of a minimum of six years and one day to 12 years and/or a fine of P100,000 to P1 million pesos, if [harm] is inflicted or undertaken against a species listed as critically endangered. Critically endangered ang Crocodylus porosus,” Fabello said.

Fabello is calling on possible witnesses to give them information regarding the incident to prevent similar incidents from happening.

“Sana magbigay sila ng impormasyon para hindi na maulit dahil bawal ang pagkatay sa batas. Itatago naman namin ang identity nila, puwede naman anonymously,” he said.