By Juan Mercado
Last updated 02:25am (Mla time) 12/18/2007
Slaughter of the birds (Inquirer/12/13/07) sparked heated
reactions. Here are some condensed comments sparked by the
Wild Bird Club of the Philippines' drive to get 10,000 signatures
on an online petition to implement the moribund wildlife
law (Republic Act 9147)
Josef Sagemuller listens to
lawyer Atty Ipat Luna
"Hunters were incensed
and started to harass the original petitioner Josef
Sagemuller," emailed the Wild Bird Club's Michael
Lu. They've left messages in the petition site telling
Sagemuller they know where he is from as well as his
background. "They insinuated (that he) seeks financial
rewards from funding agencies."
"I don't know how this will end," Lu said.
"But they must realize they've broken the law.
We've emailed Senators Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda
and Miguel Zubiri, the Bacolod local government and
environment office. If nothing happens, it's up to
NGOs to continue this fight."
In Palawan province, John Patrick S. Matta heads the
Coron Municipal Council's environment committee.
He describes himself as among the "responsible
hunters -- who are not like the rest of men. Conservationists
know nothing about nature. Responsible hunters do not shoot
what we do not intend to eat. We have strict rules and can
discipline ourselves. Each hunter through time matures and
metamorphosis (sic) into a conservationist like no other.
Only a few of you conservationists have crawled on the earth
that you defend".
His father "instilled great responsibility" with
an air gun gift on his eight birthday with which to commune
with nature. As a high school kid he hunted at the University
of the Philippines Arboretum, at Fairview and at La Mesa
Today, "once beautiful forested hillsides have been
bulldozed," Matta adds. "Nothing pains the pure
blooded hunter more than to see the destruction of our quarries'
habitat. Why not direct your gun sights at groups responsible
for the wide scale destruction of habitats?"
"We are with you in the conservation of natural habitat,"
he continues. "Here in Palawan our family owns a 21-hectare
piece of property that we intend to keep as a bird sanctuary
and nature reserve. Be fair. We are not a bunch of gung-ho
and reckless killers that you so readily labeled us to be."
Responsible hunters are a minority, says the Philippine
News Agency's Eddie Barrita. Some officials of Cebu province
hunt in the province of Bohol and other places. And some
journalists tag along. They don't bother with licenses.
On their return, they flaunt their "trophies,"
usually of endangered species.
"Growing up in Cabadjiangan, I remember wild birds
perched on towering trees," Barrita adds. "But
we deforested the place. People, pollution and unchecked
hunting decimated the birds. We'll never hear some sing
A veterinarian from University of the Philippines, Los Banos
(UPLB), Gerardo Estrera emailed to say that upon receiving
the e-mail petition, he studied the issues. He surfed bird
websites, mainly in geocities and concluded: "The request
for signatures played on the emotions of people, without
really dealing with the facts (The Viewpoint) column makes
me think that people passed judgment without studying the
issues. Shouldn't we be more responsible in passing out
The towering UPLB chancellor, National Scientist Dioscoro
Umali, wrote in 1992: Estimates are that half of our endemic
flora, with their irreplaceable genetic building blocks,
is now gone. The same is true of our wildlife. The actual
figure is probably higher.
Since then, scientists fleshed out the "Dean's"
view. These include, among others, World Bank and Asian
Development Bank studies, Birdlife International Red Data
Book, Chicago Field Museum studies, the United Nationsâ€™
State of Environment in Asia and the Pacific.
Ignorance of the hard data at this late stage is pathetic.
"Demand for more facts seeks the evidence of a postmortem,"
the Financial Times notes. Thus, Mar Patalinjug emailed
from New York: "We Filipinos can be stupid! But what
are worse are stupid predators. Can they not see our country's
once-diverse fauna and flora vanishing? Soon, vast parts
of this country will be deserts like Death Valley."
Fish ignore lines drawn on exclusive economic zones (EEZ)
maps. Birds fly over private land or public domain. "I
have never been aware of a right to shoot birds in private
property," Yeb Sano says."This is nonsense."
This was a reaction to Gino Castabdielo who designed the
controversial Bacolod Air Rifle Hunting Club's website (now
hustled down). "The group picture of hunters, with
their total catch of the day, was taken inside a private
property," he wrote. "We were invited by the land
They don't hunt "endangered species like the Flame
Templed Babbler and the Negros Bleeding Heart," he
said. Nor do they hunt in places like the Kanlaon National
Park, the Patag Rain Forest or bird sanctuaries. Precisely,
there's a quarry or game birds site."
"There are some bad eggs in (our) basket like everybody
else," he conceded. "I've talked to some conservationists
'˜kuno' [so-called]. They talked, but no action. I
teach my children to love nature. My son is going to be
a good hunter -- just like me."
"Where is the soaring eagle circling above the land?"
the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines asked
in a 1990 pastoral. "All we might leave behind is a
Seventeen years later, answers to this anguished question
have been refrigerated, pending -- what? A postmortem?