Owner of loose ostriches indicted

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
Owner of loose ostriches indicted
This photo shows the Department of Justice office in Faura, Manila.
Philstar.com / File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The owner of two ostriches that ran loose in a private subdivision in Quezon City at the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020, one of which later died due to alleged extreme stress,  was indicted and is set to undergo trial.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), in a resolution, has partly granted a petition for review filed by the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) – represented by its executive director, Anna Cabrera – which sought the criminal complaints against Jonathan Cruz, who is from Barangay Balingasa.

An order and notice of arraignment from the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 36 set Cruz’s arraignment on March 6 on the charge of violating Republic Act 9147, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

In the DOJ’s seven-page resolution, prosecutor general Benedicto Malcontento modified the resolutions issued by the Quezon City prosecutor’s office dated Oct. 28, 2022 and March 22, 2023 dismissing the complaints for insufficiency of evidence.

In partially granting the petition for review of  PAWS, the DOJ found probable cause to indict Cruz, saying his possession of the ostriches was illegal as he has no certificate of wildlife registration (CWR) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“It cannot be clearer that his possession of them is illegal,” Malcontento’s resolution read.

As Cruz is a CWR holder for tortoises, Malcontento said Cruz knew the necessity of getting a similar certificate for the ostriches.

Cruz claimed he got the ostriches sometime in 2019 from an ostrich consultant. In February 2020, he informed the consultant that he was canceling the sale of the animals.

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