4 nabbed for selling wildlife
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - March 14, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested four persons for allegedly selling endangered species during a sting on a house in San Gregorio Village, Pasay City on Monday night, an official said yesterday.

Abraham Bernales, owner of the house where endangered species were kept, was arrested along with his caretakers Joner Bawente, Nestor Tuiron and Jose Sandigan, said lawyer Czar Eric Nuqui, NBI environmental crime division chief.

The sting was staged a few days after the NBI received and verified the report on the suspects’ illegal trade, he added.

The NBI said most of the animals were taken from Indonesia, smuggled through Mindanao and transported to Manila in a van and are being offered for sale online.

Rogelio Demelletes Jr. of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Biodiversity Management Bureau said selling and importing birds from Indonesia is strictly prohibited to prevent the spread of bird flu.

Bernales and his caretakers, who were temporarily detained at the NBI, admitted that they were selling the animals.

The more than 300 animals, found stuffed in cramped cages, were brought to the DENR’s rescue center in Quezon City for quarantine.

Among the rescued animals are 110 sugar gliders, two wallabies, 154 cockatoos, 17 black-capped lories, 16 rainbow lories and three baby ostriches.

The NBI said the total street value of the animals could reach as high as P10 million.

According to reports, this could be one of the largest hauls of animals destined for the pet trade.

Bernales, who runs a pet shop at the Cartimar market, was arrested in 2014 after the DENR raided his house and seized illegally traded wildlife.

In 2015, he was identified by suspected poachers arrested in Palawan as their alleged financier. They were caught transporting endangered species to Rizal province.

The conditions in which the animals were held caused 44 talking mynahs and three blue-naped parrots to die.

The animals were supposed to be brought to Cavite and then to Cartimar, the DENR said.

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