What does government and society do when hunters are caught and/or documented in pictures of their own with their day’s catch – dead Philippine wild ducks which are classified as vulnerable?
Of course, they are prosecuted for violation of the law, fined and jailed, just like Bryan Balaon, a 26-year-old farmer in Bukidnon, who has been sentenced last May 2012 to six years in prison for killing with an air gun, cooking, and eating a Philippine eagle. The eagle is classified as “critically endangered” with just “90 to 250 pairs left in the wild.”
Now, what if the hunters are the incumbent Governor of Ilocos Sur Luis “Chavit” Singson and his daughter Richelle Louise Singson-Michael, an architect who graduated from the University of the Philippines (see Facebook screenshots below)?
Republic Act 9147, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, is clear in its prohibition of collection and hunting of threatened wildlife. The government’s Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)’s Administrative Order 2004-15 establishes the list of threatened wildlife species. The same Administrative Order states that all species listed under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) Appendices I and II are included in the prohibition. One of the listed species is the Philippine Duck Anas luzonica.
BirdLife International (2013) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List for birds state that the Philippine Duck is listed as Vulnerable because it is undergoing a rapid and continuing decline owing to extensive over-hunting and the widespread conversion of its wetland habitats.
See also “Endangered Birds of the Philippines”.
The penalty for killing vulnerable wildlife as stated in RA 9147 is imprisonment of two to four years and / or a fine of P30,000 – P300,000 ($750 – $7500). The law further states that unless otherwise allowed in accordance with the Act: it shall be unlawful for any person to wilfully and knowingly exploit wildlife resources and their habitats: collecting, hunting or possessing wildlife, their by-products and derivatives. Mere possession of these species, evidenced by trophy pictures posted on websites, is already punishable by law.
Last April 22, 2013, Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson admitted to leading national daily Philippine Daily Inquirer that, “To escape, Singson goes hunting and fishing. He goes for wild ducks in Ilocos Sur. His other hunting grounds are Mindoro, Pampanga, Sweden, Australia and South Africa in June.”
Maybe hunting is allowed in Sweden, Australia and South Africa in June or any defined season. In the Philippines, it is not allowed, it is illegal whole-year round.
The lowly hunter in Bukidnon who can barely read or write is prosecuted for shooting a Philippine Eagle. The governor and his daughter in Ilocos Sur are educated and have access to information about the law, yet they flaunt their hunting and killing of Philippine Ducks like they don’t fear prosecution. Do they think they are exempted from abiding the law?
Or are they?
Photos of Philippine ducks taken in the wild in their natural habitat in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, the neighboring province of Ilocos Sur in the North of the Philippines.
Other photos of Philippine Ducks may be viewed on the link Philippine Ducks (Anaz luzonica).