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Nation

Amend Wildlife Protection Act, group asks Congress

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Environmental group Tanggol Kalikasan has called for the immediate passage of amendments to Republic Act  9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act .

Tanggol Kalikasan executive director Ma. Ronely Bisquera-Sheen stressed the need to strengthen the 20-year-old law to address the ”increasingly sophisticated and organized illegal wildlife trade operations.”

“We call on the 18th Congress to use their power to pass this much-needed law. It will be a worthwhile legacy that will not only protect our wildlife resources but also the lives and livelihood of generations of Filipinos,” Sheen said.

She said the law must keep up with the changing landscape of wildlife crimes and enforcement.

Existing penalties for violators law do not correspond to the gravity of offenses and fail to serve as a deterrent, Sheen said.

Most of the penalties under the law are imprisonment of less than six years, with first-time offenders usually applying for probation to skip detention and pay fines.

In 2019, foreigners caught with P1.7 million worth of dried seahorses ended up paying a measly fine of P15,000.

The proposed amendments penalize trading, possession and transport of wildlife with a maximum prison term of eight years and up to P1 million fine.

Penalties for killing or destroying wildlife include up to 12 years imprisonment and P2 million fine.

Wildlife trafficking shall be treated as a distinct and separate offense if more than one species is involved.

The group said the estimated value of illegal wildlife trade in the country is P50 billion or $1 billion yearly.                                              

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