Tragic and gory end … The 300kg Leatherback turtle falls into the cruel hands of barangay officials and villagers who do not know their law. -- From ROMEO MACABANGKIT’S VIDEO GRAB.
By JUAN ESCANDOR JR
NAGA CITY:A leatherback sea turtle, about 300kg and requires several men to carry, was butchered by villagers in a 19-minute video the Bicol Mail obtained recently.
Romeo Macabangkit, a resident of Barangay Magtang in Tinambac town who took the video with his cellular phone, claimed the leatherback turtle, classified critically endangered species, was snared in a fishnet on Oct 18 and butchered on the same day.
Macabangkit, a former member of the village council in Barangay Magtang and at present running for the same position in the Barangay Elections, accused three local officials in Tinambac town for condoning the illegal act of butchering a critically endangered species.
He said the meat, which was placed in three Styrofoam boxes, was distributed among the villagers who cooked their shares for viand and pulutan.
Under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Arnel Rodriguez said their office will act on the video upon filing of written complaint by anyone with direct knowledge about the illegal act.
Rodriguez, a lawyer, said sworn statements are required to validate and start an investigation to identify the perpetrators before a case could be filed in court.
He said the species must be categorized whether it is an endangered or critically endangered which has stiffer penalty.
Rodriguez said for critically endangered species that are butchered, the perpetrators face a penalty of 6 years and one day to 12 years imprisonment and fine that runs to hundreds of thousand of pesos. – Bicol Mail