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Eagle killer fined P100,000 by judge

() - May 25, 2012 - 12:00am

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A farmer in Bukidnon was fined P100,000 for killing and eating a Philippine eagle four years ago.

Judge Josefina Bacal of Malaybalay, Bukidnon Regional Trial Court Branch 10 imposed the minimum penalty on Bryan Bala-on, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, after he admitted shooting, cooking and eating the endangered bird.

The criminal case is the first ever against a person for killing, cooking and eating a Philippine eagle that is illegal under Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order No. 2004-15 and the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species.

The slain eagle Kagsabua was rescued in 2006 within the vicinity of Mt. Kitanglad National Park, also in Bukidnon.

Kagsabua was then taken in September 2006 to the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Calinan district for treatment.

The non-profit Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEP) rums the center.

“Kagsabua” means “unity” in Hiligaynon, one of Bukidnon’s languages.

In March 2008, Kagsabua was deemed fully recuperated and was attached with a transmitter and tracking device before it was released in the wild at the foot of Mt. Kitanglad.

The technical team from the PEF were still able to track Kagsabua in the months that followed until July when they could no longer trace the whereabouts of the giant raptor.

Bala-on confessed to his neighbor and to Felix Mirasol, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Protected Area superintendent, admitting his illegal act, and executed an affidavit to that effect.

He also confessed during an interview with a TV station but later recanted his statement.

In his counter-affidavit, Bala-on told the court that he was in Cagayan de Oro City on the date of the commission of the crime.

Dennis Salvador, PEF executive director, said the punishment was not enough.

[The sentence does not represent what we lost in real terms and in symbolic terms,” he said.

“The victim is our national bird, our national heritage. I feel that we lost an opportunity here to send an important message against poachers and other people who commit crimes against nature for a successful trial.”

They need to make an appeal within 15 days or the ruling takes effect, Jennifer Ramos, PEF’s counsel said.

Killing a critically endangered species is punishable with six years and one day to 12 years and/or a fine of P100,000 to P1 million as provided under Republic Act 9147, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

BALA BRYAN BALA BUKIDNON BUKIDNON REGIONAL TRIAL COURT BRANCH DENNIS SALVADOR DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES PROTECTED AREA FELIX MIRASOL IN MARCH INTERNATIONAL TRADE OF ENDANGERED SPECIES KAGSABUA
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