(Photo Screenshot from the video originally posted on Ja-Nep Tourguide Facebook Page)

The local tourism office of Taytay has reminded travelers and tour guides that touching wildlife is strictly punishable by law.

This came after a video of guests petting a green sea turtle while swimming in Debangan Island went viral.

In a statement, the Municipal Tourism Development and Management Office of Taytay condemned the actions in the video, assuring the public that those involved will be dealt with accordingly by the law.

“The Municipal Tourism Development and Management Office of Taytay, Palawan, strongly condemns the acts of tour guides and tourists and all other people involved in the abuse and cruelty perpetrated on the sea turtles in Debangan Island as seen on this video link. Rest assured that we have laws and ordinances protecting our local wildlife against exploitation, particularly the endangered green sea turtles. All individuals on this video will be dealt with accordingly and will be met with fines and penalties without prejudice to the filing of a criminal case in the appropriate court,” the statement said.

The tourism office also reminded the public of the laws and prohibitions with regards to touching of wildlife.

“Let this be a reminder to all tourists and residents of Taytay that touching of wildlife, particularly IUCN threatened species, whether with or without intent of harming them is punishable under Municipal Ordinance No. 450 and 451. Penalties include a fine of not less than Php1,500.00 for first offense, and Php2,500.00 for the succeeding offenses, without prejudice to filing of appropriate cases in competent court in relation to Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act or RA 9147” the statement said further.

Asked by some netizens if the tour guide involved in the video is accredited by the Department of Tourism, the local tourism office said that they are most likely colorums.

“These are probably non-Taytay guides, most likely colorum guides who went to Debangan without going through the proper process,” the office responded.


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