MANILA – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has recognized two female maritime police officers who have made significant contributions to the protection of wildlife species in the Philippines.
Patrolwoman Diane Flores, 26, and Patrolwoman Ella Mae Duquiatan, 26, of the Manila Maritime Police Station, were commended for helping apprehend two Filipino poachers who were selling endangered Mynah and a Rufous Hornbill in June 2019.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday, Flores said she posed as a buyer to bust the two suspects.
“Delikado para sa amin kasi nakikilala nila kami. Pero ayos lang naman kasi aware naman kami na parte siya talaga ng trabaho bilang pulis (The criminals would identify us so it is dangerous but it is part of our job as police personnel),” she said.
Duquiatan served as the arresting officer for the case.
“Aside from part of the job ang ginagawa namin, we understand the vital role we play in performing our duty kasi meron po itong malaking impact sa ibang aspeto ng pamumuhay (because it has a big impact on other aspects of our lives),” she said.
The two, who were lauded along with other law enforcement officers as partners of the DENR and other wildlife protection groups at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City on Tuesday, successfully filed a case against the two environment criminals.
DENR Assistant Secretary Ricardo Calderon, meanwhile, said only about 30 cases were filed against illegal wildlife traders last year due to the lack of evidence.
The Asian Development Bank reported that the Philippines is estimated to lose PHP50 billion a year from illegal wildlife trade. This actively impacts the country’s economy, food, water, health security, as well as the livelihood of millions of Filipinos.
In a message, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, however, cited that they were working to amend the 19-year-old Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (Republic Act 9147) to build capacity across the law enforcement chain, and reduce demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife parts, through a large-scale public awareness campaign.
A beta test version of the filtering app WILDAlert system was also soft-launched on Tuesday.
To be officially turned over to the DENR by the second quarter of the year, the app will help law enforcers and DENR forest rangers to streamline the identification of wildlife and reporting of wildlife crime. (PNA)