The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced that it will intensify efforts to combat wildlife crime, in partnership with law enforcement agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), during the 7th Wildlife Enforcement Awards held on World Wildlife Day.
“Our endemic species face the threat of extinction if we do not intensify our law enforcement to crack down illegal wildlife trafficking and other environmental crimes. We honor the valiant efforts of our enforcers who risk their lives to protect our country’s wildlife resources from poaching, trafficking and overexploitation,” said DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo, Jr. “We are currently working with Congress to establish an environmental protection and enforcement bureau that will provide the DENR stronger powers and full authority to police wildlife traffickers, illegal loggers, and other environmental criminals,” he added.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) who are working with DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau on projects to address wildlife and environmental crime, were on hand to reaffirm their continued support for the Philippine government’s efforts. Over the last four years, USAID has supported DENR with enforcement, policy, research, private sector financing, behavior change communication, as well as providing advanced training programs covering wildlife crime scene investigations, advanced intelligence and investigation techniques, and wildlife identification along with improving the wildlife forensics capacity of the Philippines. WildALERT – a mobile application to aid DENR personnel and law enforcement partners in identifying wildlife species and reporting wildlife crimes while on the field, was also launched.
ADB is supporting DENR-BMB in its efforts to: (i) strengthen policies and legal frameworks to address large-scale wildlife trafficking, in particular to amend the 19-year old Philippine Wildlife Act, RA 9147 (ii) enhance inter-agency collaboration and information sharing through tools such as the E-CITES online permitting system to prevent fraud and wildlife smuggling, port monitoring assessments, and trainings in cooperation with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and (iii) reducing consumer demand for wildlife and wildlife products and make the public and policymakers aware of the long-term value of wildlife to the Philippine economy.
A Joint Declaration Against Wildlife Crime requesting Congress to pass the proposed amendments to RA 9147 in the most expeditious way possible and declaring large-scale illegal wildlife trade as a serious transnational crime that requires close collaboration among law enforcement agencies, was also unveiled. The declaration also welcomes the inclusion of violations of sections in RA 9147 in the list of predicate crimes to money laundering, consistent with the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.
The DENR also highlighted its awareness campaigns, #STOPILLEGALWILDLIFETRADE and#BETTERWILDANDALIVE, supported by the ADB and USAID, to raise awareness around illegal wildlife trade, and the urgent need for collective action by government, civil society, private sector, and individuals to help conserve wildlife.
This year’s celebration of World Wildlife Day is an opportunity for people to recognize the important role of wildlife in our ecology while advocating for its protection, to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the benefits of greater biodiversity. It also included a ceremonial turnover of a new X-Ray Machine to the National Wildlife Rescue and Research Center, and the 5th National Wildlife Quiz Bee Contest.