11 face charge for transport of fossilized giant clams in CDO
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Eleven individuals caught transporting fossilized giant clams or “taklobo” in Barangay Lumbia here are now facing administrative and criminal charges, a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-10 (BFAR-10) official said Wednesday.
BFAR-10 Assistant Director Teodoro Bacolod Jr. said the suspects will be charged with violating Republic Act 10654, which amends Republic Act 8550, the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.
Section 102 of RA 10654 states: “It shall be unlawful to fish or take, catch, gather, sell, purchase, possess, transport, export, forward or ship out aquatic species listed in Appendix I of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), or those categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) as threatened and determined by the Department as such.”
Bacolod said the seized 8,000 kilos of giant clams are estimated to be worth PHP48 million based on the reported buying price of PHP6,000 per kilo.
He said the buyers are said to be foreigners who want to purchase the clams for the components of pearl found in the fossilized shells.
Aside from the criminal charges, Bacolod said they have also sought a fine of PHP5 million from all the 11 suspects.
“We want to teach them a lesson that they cannot just take our fisheries laws for granted. They have to pay the price,” Bacolod said, adding that the exorbitant penalty is meant to discourage those who engage in the illegal act.
The suspects, on board a truck loaded with the clams, were flagged down by officers from the City Mobile Force Company (CMFC) manning a checkpoint in Barangay Lumbia here on Tuesday dawn.
Lt. Col. Alexy Sonido, CMFC commander, said the truck was stopped due to a traffic infraction, but they apprehended the individuals and the cargo was confiscated when the suspects failed to present any documents.
“The driver was not wearing a seat belt and he was issued a citation ticket. When the truck was inspected, police found people inside and dozens of sacks containing the giant clams,” he said.
Sonido said the truck came from Barangay Bayanga and was headed for Initao town, Misamis Oriental, to a waiting buyer.
He said the truck was registered to Precily Ceniza of Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental. Police identified the suspects as truck driver Christopher Pornia, 28, a resident of Barangay Poblacion, Quezon town, Bukidnon; Ricky Sunogan, 50; Larry Salvan, 45; Diosdado Abellana, 29; Arnel Sanchez, 49; Peterson Suan, 55; Ricky Allones, 35; Jed Ragmac, 29; Ramil Villagracia, 19; Ronel Pilarca, 30; and Michael Paler, 24.
Sonido said the case against the suspects have already been filed in court Tuesday (Dec. 3), while the clams were stored at the BFAR-10 regional compound in Barangay Macabalan, this city.