The Philippine government declared Friday an all-out war against poachers of wildlife species, especially those endemic to the country, after authorities recently seized a large number of protected animals during a raid on a home in Tondo, Manila.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said he ordered the newly formed Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade (POGI) to file criminal charges against suspected owners of the confiscated animals and their possible cohorts.
The raiding team recovered 78 Palawan Hill Mynas, 12 Blue-naped Parrots, and five juvenile Indo-Pacific or Saltwater Crocodiles, which were all dead during the operation last Wednesday. Only 14 Philippine forest and pond turtles were retrieved alive.
"What's particularly alarming about this poaching incident is that there were reports that most of these endangered animals were intentionally killed to avoid detection by authorities and such act carries a higher penalty," Paje said.
He condemned the killing and said the government "won't tolerate such cruelty to animals."
Under Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, illegal trade of endangered species is penalized by a fine of 200,000 pesos (4,610 U.S. dollars) and a jail term of two years while the killing of endangered animals carries the penalty of six-year imprisonment and a fine of 500,000 pesos.
Paje warned that the full force of the law will be used against those who engage in illegal trading, collection and possession of wildlife species.