By: Patricia Aquino, InterAksyon.com
November 26, 2013 12:58 PM
The Instagram photographs of Luis "Chavit" Singson and daughter
Richelle Singson-Michael that appears on the change.org petition
to stop the hunting of endangered Philippine birds.
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA - A photo of former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson with what is reportedly a dead lion he shot for his birthday has recently caused uproar on social media, but it is another set of photos of him and his daughter Richelle Singson-Michael hunting for what seem to be a threatened species of Philippine duck that has him in hot water.
More than 2,100 have signed a petition on online advocacy platform Change.org spearheaded by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines to “demand an end to the killing of our threatened species for sport.”
The group addressed the Singsons and Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) Director Mundita Lim.
A screenshot of an Instagram post by Singson-Michael (arch_richellesingson) is attached to the petition, and shows a collage of four photos of the father and daughter with dead birds and/or rifles in their hands, as well as one with the pair grinning as the felled birds are laid out in a line before them.
The post, which seems to have been deleted from Singson-Michael’s account, contains the caption, “#Hunting #fatherdaughter #bonding #whatsfordinner? #wildduck #adobo.” Change.org has identified the birds as the endemic Philippine wild ducks.
PAWB Wildlife Division chief Josie de Leon asked its Region I office to look into the case, according to Change.org campaigns director Inday Espina-Varona, who talked with de Leon Monday.
However, de Leon said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which has administrative control over PAWB, has no capability to do an Internet-related probe. It is now seeking the help of the National Bureau of Investigation’s Cybercrime unit, headed by Head Agent Ronald Aguto Jr.
De Leon told Change.org that “only the Cybercrime office would be able to coordinate access” to Singson-Michael’s accounts on Instagram and Facebook. More photos of the pair’s catch were reportedly in the latter social networking site, but had been deleted as well.
While Singson-Michael has denied that the hunt was done here, an article by GMA News Online (http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/334131/news/nation/wildlife-bureau-looking-into-chavit-singson-s-duck-hunting-trip-with-daughter) shows a screen shot of her identifying the site as a place in Ilocos.
“The photos were clearly of Philippine wild ducks,” de Leon told Change.org. “These are found only in the Philippines.” She also said that the Singsons have a permit to keep the animals, but not to hunt them.
Netizens slammed the pair for their activities.
Camille D from the Philippines said in the petition, “Hindi dapat ginagawang kasiyahan ng mga mayayaman ang pangangaso ng mga ‘endangered’ na mga hayop. Maghanap na lang sana sila ng ibang pagkakaabalahan (The rich should not make a sport out of hunting endangered animals. They should look for something else to occupy themselves).”
Shirley Lam from Hong Kong said that the acts were “Outrageous. Shameful. Illegal,” and that these showed a blatant disregard for law and wildlife.
“Endemic species should be offered more protection, not stupidity,” she added.
John Eaton from the United Kingdom said that the Singsons should be placed in jail “for breaking the law.” Posting photos of the hunt “sends out the wrong message to the population.”
In the petition, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines stressed that Philippine wildlife was “a treasure that belongs to all Filipinos,” and thus, there were laws such as the Wildlife Resources and Conservation and Protection Act or RA 9147 for their protection.
The latter bans hunting for wildlife in the country, according to Change.org. Violators face imprisonment of anywhere from two years and one day to four years, and/or a fine between P30,000 and P300,000.
“There are 673 species of birds found in the Philippines. Of these 673 species, 234 are found only in the Philippines. The survival of many of these species is already under threat from loss of habitat. Our wildlife cannot survive being hunted whether for sport, recreation, or sustenance,” explained the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.
They added that the extinction of these species would be a “grave crime” against both the Filipinos and the future generations who would have no idea that these creatures existed.
While they protested the Singsons’ actions as encouraging others to imitate them, they nevertheless urged these “hunters turn around and engage in the protection and preservation of wildlife and environment for future generations of Filipinos.”
Find the petition on https://www.change.org/ph/mga-petisyon/luis-crisologo-chavit-singson-richelle-louise-singson-michael-dir-mundita-s-lim-pawb-we-demand-an-end-to-the-killing-of-our-threatened-species-for-sport.