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Russian national charged for ‘killing’ sea turtle

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — Police on Wednesday filed charges against a Russian national for allegedly killing an endangered green sea turtle in a marine sanctuary in Barangay Masaplod Sur, Dauin town in south Negros Oriental.

Anton Likharev, 35, a native of Vladivostok, Russia, was charged before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office for violation of Sec. 97 of Republic Act 8550 as amended by Sec. 102 of Republic Act 10654, Inspector Bernabe Rubio, Dauin police chief, told The FREEMAN.

Sec. 102 of RA 10654 stipulates that it is unlawful to “take, catch, gather, sell, purchase, possess, transport, export, or ship out aquatic species listed in Appendix I of the Convention of the International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) or those categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).”

An offender can be penalized up to P5 million and imprisonment of 12 years and one day to 20 years.

Initial police investigation showed that around 9:50 a.m. Wednesday, Bantay Dagat member Froilan Bantayanon saw the said foreigner inside the marine sanctuary, said Rubio.

At first, Bantayanon thought the foreigner was just taking underwater photographs. But later on, the fish warden saw Likharev allegedly trying to pull out something that looked like a spear

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The foreigner allegedly got out of the water, bringing with him to the shore something concealed in a towel.

The Bantay Dagat approached the foreigner and when the towel was removed, he saw a green sea turtle with a spear pierced through its head.

The turtle weighed nine and three-fourths kilos.

Bantayanon said he introduced himself to the suspect and took custody of the spear gun and the turtle, which, unfortunately, died due to the injury.

The fish warden then called Dauin Mayor Neil Credo and informed him of the incident.

Mayor Credo instructed the Dauin police to immediately respond to the scene.

When interviewed by the police, the Russian national said he was going after a fish that he targeted with his spear gun and did not see the turtle resting among the corals, Rubio said.

A bail bond of P40,000.00 was set.

Rubio said a team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) arrived to document the sea turtle and buried it later.

The Russian national is now under detention at the lock-up facility of Dauin Police Station. (FREEMAN)

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