ONLY recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service commended the Bureau of Customs, particularly its Port of NAIA, for the interception of a reticulated python and expressed appreciation for its efforts to counter attempts on wildlife smuggling.
This, along with previous apprehensions of the BOC-NAIA under NAIA District Collector Carmelita ‘Mimel’ Talusan involving the smuggling of wildlife animals and species were also commended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and international bodies including the Traffic South East Asia, a leading international NGO working exclusively on wildlife trade.
In a letter addressed to the BOC, Alfred Colby, Senior Special Agent/Regional Attache for SE Asia, US Fish and Wildlife Service, wrote: “In the US, the python is listed as Injurious on the Lacey Act and importation is strictly regulated. Another current issue is the potential risk of spreading zoonotic diseases which we are all suffering due to COVID-19.”
The commendations came after a live reticulated python was recently intercepted by the Bureau of Customs- NAIA from an outbound parcel at the DHL warehouse.
The package was misdeclared as “wood curtains, lanterns and rattan baskets.” It was shipped by a certain “Janrei Fernandez” from Sampaloc, Manila and was supposedly bound for New York, United States.
However, during the 100 percent physical examination conducted by the Customs Examiner who was on duty at that time, a python was found hidden inside a rattan basket.
Talusan immediately ordered that the seized live reticulated python be immediately turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for proper handling and care.
It is because of this latest seizure that Talusan is reminding the public once again, that the importation, exportation and trade of wildlife animals without the necessary permit are crimes penalized under Republic Act 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act) in relation to Republic Act 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act).
Violators of the said laws may face imprisonment of one year and one day to two years and a fine of P2,000 to P200,000, depending on the discretion of the court handling the case.
Talusan said the BOC-NAIA operatives are always in full support of the anti-smuggling drive of Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Also pursuant to this, Talusan said the BoC-NAIA has been very active and vigilant in protecting the country’s borders against illegal importation and exportation of wildlife animals and species.
This, of course, is aside from the constantly watchful eyes that are trained against the entry of dangerous drugs and other contrabands that pose as threats to our country’s national security, public health, ecology and environment.
Indeed, the BOC-NAIA had proven that the pandemic is no reason to let their guards down or be lax in any manner.
Their countless operations that have resulted in the confiscation of illegal items, specially drugs, show that they are always on their toes, enough to dissuade those who may attempt at sneaking into the country anything that is prohibited under our laws.
The commendations are therefore well-deserved, to say the least.
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