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Environment chief seeks a stop to killing of birds

Sunstar Pampanga
Friday, January 18, 2008

CANDABA -- Environment Secretary Lito Atienza has called for the immediate investigation of the wanton hunting and killing of birds in the country following the appeal made by Mayor Jerry Pelayo and the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines to strictly enforce the Wild life Act or Republic Act 9147.

Atienza warned the public that killing, collecting or inflicting injury to wildlife, including bird species is unlawful, with violators facing imprisonment and payment of fines.

This developed as some groups and individuals are actively engaged in hunting birds -- some of which have been classified as vulnerable or threatened -- as a hobby or as a commercial venture.

Pelayo said he joined those who condemned the wanton hunting of wild birds in the country.

"It greatly saddens me that even members of the Philippine National Shooting Team (PNST) who should be models for the youth seemed involved in the senseless killing of wild birds, particularly the endemic Philippine Duck (Anas luzonica)," Pelayo said.

Atienza said he had already issued an order to environment filed personnel to look for or monitor the activities of bird hunters like the PNST and act accordingly, in coordination with the local government and police officials.

"We have a Wild Life Act aimed at conserving and protecting wild life resources and habitats. This law explicitly prohibits the killing, collecting, hunting or possessing wild life, their by products and derivatives. We must implement this," Atienza said.

The environment chief expressed serious concern about reports that bird hunting expeditions are being organized by certain groups. Some have brazenly advertised on the Internet, soliciting public participation in bird hunting activities.

But officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) learned that some of these controversial web sites had been shut down following the uproar about photos on the web showing a group of individuals with hunting rifles slung on their bodies, proudly displaying lifeless Philippine ducks or Philippine mallards.

Pelayo expressed sadness and disturbed that even an elected official in Palawan who serves in a Municipal Committee on Environment thinks that living closest to nature can be a licenses to shoot helpless wild birds. "Whatever our opinion is, killing wild birds is against the law with only a few exceptions that do not included the need to satisfy craving for bird meat," he said.

The Philippine duck is a wild bird endemic to the country and classifies as a vulnerable species. Although not yet endangered, the Philippine duck is under threat from adverse factors throughout their range and is likely to move to the endangered category in the future.

Atienza directed the DENR legal division to study the filing of charges against the bird hunters.

The other day, a group of student environment activists from Candaba Central School joined Pelayo in lobbying at the DENR office to urge the secretary to seriously implement the wild life law and to once and for all stop the senseless killing of birds.

Those who joined Pelayo are Carlo Salac, Jannah Richel Dela Pena, Jeremy Pius Gonzales, Shaira Simbulan, Robin Peralta, Katherine Melendez, Patrick Manio, Krizel Mingoy, Eugene Quiazon and teachers, Mailah Amurao, Rebecca Tungcab, Remedios Dizon, Neneth Rivera and Aristotle Evangelista. (RCG)