By AMANDA FERNANDEZ, GMA News November 4, 2013 5:05pm
Wild duck for dinner?
The daughter of former Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson seemed unaware of any laws that may have been broken as she posted photos of herself and her father hunting wild duck in the province.
Richelle Louise Singson-Michael posted the photos on Instagram and Facebook with the hash tags "#Hunting #fatherdaughter #bonding #whatsfordinner? #wildduck #adobo". The photos have gone viral on the Net among bird enthusiasts and photographers.
In a comment on one of the photos, Richelle said it was taken "somewhere in Ilocos Sur."
The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines has decried the Singsons' actions, saying that wild duck hunting is illegal in the Philippines.
"While the Club desperately promotes bird watching to raise the need for environmental conservation, some of our countrymen spend family-bonding time killing birds," the group said on its Facebook account. "Hunting, poaching and even mere possession of wildlife is illegal in the Philippines."
"In the Daang Matuwid administration, why are some people...still above the law?," it added.
In an interview with GMA News Online, the club's founding chairman Mike Lu identified the hunted birds as endemic Philippine duck.
According to an article on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources site, the Philippine duck is the country's only endemic duck and is classified as "vulnerable" under the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Republic Act 9147, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, states that the collection and hunting of threatened wildlife is prohibited.
"Actually lahat ng wildlife bawal, may corresponding multa," Lu said.
He noted that while other countries have hunting season, "sa buong Pilipinas walang hunting season; mere posession is illegal."
"It seems like no one bothers to implement the law," he added.
Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines co-founder and vice president Alain Pascua said the penalty for killing vulnerable wildlife may be imprisonment of two to four years and/or a fine of P30,000 – P300,000 ($750 – $7500).
"Mere possession of these species, evidenced by trophy pictures posted on websites, is already punishable by law," he added.
He also noted that a 26-year-old farmer in Bukidnon, identified as Bryan Balaon, was sentenced last May 2012 to six years in prison for killing a Philippine eagle with an air gun. "The eagle is classified as critically endangered with just 90 to 250 pairs left in the wild, he added.
"The lowly hunter who can barely read or write is prosecuted for shooting an eagle. These people are educated and have access to information about the law, yet they flaunt their hunting and killing like they don't fear prosecution. Do they think they are exempted from abiding the law?" he said.
Meanwhile, bird photographer Sylvia Ramos noted that last year, a man was arrested forshooting wild ducks in Pampanga.
GMA News Online has tried to reach the Singsons for comment.
In an article posted by the Inquirer on April 22, 2013, Chavit said he is fond of hunting wild duckin Ilocos Sur, Mindoro, Pampanga, Sweden, Australia and South Africa. — BM, GMA News