The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has scored another legal victory over illegal wildlife traders after a Davao court convicted two individuals who were caught in a raid that turned up over P50-million worth of wildlife species in Mati City last April.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu hailed the conviction as “yet another corroboration of the agency’s unyielding mission of protecting the country from illegal wildlife trade.”

“It is our mandate to give justice to the voiceless wildlife species that are incessantly being used for personal gains,” Cimatu stressed.

In a decision penned by Presiding Judge Semiramis Bituin Castro, the Municipal Trial Court in Mati City, Davao Oriental convicted Jomar Lumakore Toledo and Rompas Manindig Lumakore for violating Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

RA 9147 prohibits the killing, injuring, collection, selling and transport of threatened and endangered wildlife species.

Toledo and Lumakore were meted a jail term of up to four years and a fine of Php30,000 each.

Court records showed that both accused pleaded guilty to the crime upon re-arraignment from the previous plea of not guilty.

The case stemmed from a raid conducted by the Philippine Operations Group of Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade or Task Force POGI—a composite team of wildlife enforcers from various agencies including the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Philippine National Police—in a warehouse in Barangay Dahican.

The raid yielded a total of 450 species of bird, mammals and reptiles, including the endangered Black Palm Cockatoos and Echidna.

The confiscated exotic animals were reportedly in the area for safekeeping in a week before they are transported to and sold in different areas in the country. The task force arrested Toledo and Lumakore, who served as caretakers of the wild animals.

Earlier this year, the DENR also won a lawsuit against a wildlife trader who was caught selling a live green iguana, which is considered an endangered species, in July 2018.

The Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 36 convicted Harriet Shelley Velarde for violating RA 9147 and sentenced her to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of one year and one day to two years, and to pay a fine of P200,000. ###