Bohol traders of manta rays face charges
By Ric V. Obedencio
TAGBILARAN CITY, Feb. 25 (PNA) – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) based here filed on Friday charges before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office against five persons for trading at least two manta rays (Manta Alferdi and Manta Birostris), considered as endangered species.
PCG seized last week two manta rays (Sanga in Visayan) already chopped into pieces loaded in a yellow cargo truck with plate number 074807 owned by one Paterna Cero and one white motorized boat “MBCA The Original Double D” with no documents as to its operation or permit to transport the species.
The Coast Guard intercepted the banned cargo --- chopped manta rays --- from the aforesaid vehicle about to be transported to Pamilacan island by the said motorized boat.
The complainants SN1 Ralph Barajan and SN2 Gian Carl Buenaobra filed criminal charges docketed as NPS No. VII-02-INQ-17B-00114. The complaint is approved by LTJG Jimmy Berbo of PCG and subscribed to by provincial prosecutor Macario Delusa.
Named respondents in the case were Angel Talabok Pingkian, Virgilio Quimson Pingkian, Benjamin Penida Nisnisan, Jr., Milagros Pingkian Valeroso and Darwin Gamas Salazar for “deliberately, intentionally, and willfully, did there and then, have in their possession sliced manta rays allegedly for purposes of selling/purchasing, transporting etc. in violation of the above-stated law.”
PCG attached documents supporting their complaint such as: Joint affidavit of the complainant, inventory of seized species, request for scientific identification, BFAR certification, the impounded vehicle and boat and others, the complaint showed.
If found guilty, the respondents may be fined five times of the value of the manta rays, or Php 500,000 up to Php 5 million, whichever is higher or 12 to 20 years imprisonment and forfeiture of the seized manta rays as provided by fisheries code of the Philippines.
The motorized boat is owned by Cecilio Pingkian and skippered by one Angel Pingkian, all were residents of Pamilacan island, off Baclayon town, the report said.
Mr. Pedro R. Millana, Jr. of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), who conducted the inspection of the body parts of manta ray, confirmed that the species on board the vehicle and the motorized boat are all manta rays.
These species are protected under Fisheries Administrative Order No. 193 and Republic Act 9147, known as The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, BFAR said in the Coast Guard report.
Valeroso told BFAR and PCG that she bought the species from a certain Tita Orculit, a resident of Jagna, Bohol, where the copped rays came from. She also said that the banned manta rays were about to be transported to Pamilacan island via the said motorized boat “for trading.”
She said that the cargo cost them some Php20,000 but she refused how much they would gain if retailed or sold in dried form. She also said that they don’t know that the species they bought were all prohibited.
Dried “Sanga” now cost between Php 600 to Php 1,000 per kilo and trading still thrives in some towns in Bohol like Baclayon and Jagna.
The seized cargo disturb the surroundings of K of C, this city, due to its foul odor emitted from decaying rays the following day Feb. 24 after the CG brought them from Baclayon town where they were seized. On the same day, PCG and BFAR decided to bury the manta rays somewhere in Calape.
Manta rays or devil rays are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES. “CITES is an international treaty to prevent species from becoming endangered or extinct because of international trade. Under this treaty, countries work together to regulate the international trade of animal and plant species and ensure that this trade is not detrimental to the survival of wild populations. Any trade in protected plant and animal species should be sustainable, based on sound biological understanding and principles.”
“So alarming” is how Lanelle Abueva Fernando’s fb post described the unabated hunting of manta rays in seas surrounding Bohol island.
The Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines (MWWP) recently reported that dolphins are believed to be hunted. It said in its fb, ““A Fraser's dolphin head was seen floating in a southerly direction from the public market in Guindulman, Bohol. Was this dolphin slaughtered?”
In recent years, dolphins also ended up stranded or beached in Bohol for being wounded and some ingested plastics, marine watch and rescue unit here said.
“A school of mobula rays fished out of the Bohol Sea and landed in Jagna, Bohol this morning. Only two species of manta rays are protected in the Philippines. The smaller devilrays, like in this picture, will only get full protection in April (under the Philippine Fisheries Code) after it had been successfully listed in CITES last October.” Holger Horn, who already married a Filipina and has already stayed here for quite sometime, said.
For marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, it should be that the BFAR and the local government unit concerned do their part, “monitor and enforce the law.” (PNA)