wildlife laws webinarA total of 44 participants from local government units (LGUs) of Region 13 attended the Webinar on Wildlife Laws for LGUs
from September 28 to October 22, 2020 via Zoom. The webinar covered the Philippines' initiatives in combating wildlife trade
and the salient features of RA 9147 and other related environmental laws.

A total of 58 local government units (LGUs) and 101 trainees (44% female) from parts of Visayas and Mindanao participated in the recently concluded Webinar on Wildlife Laws held online from September to October 2020.

Forty-four (44) trainees from 31 LGUs in Region 7 participated in the webinar held last October 19-23, 2020. On the other hand, 59 trainees from 30 LGUs in Region 13 attended the earlier webinar on September 28-October 2, 2020.

The LGU participants represented both the executive and legislative offices, such as the Provincial/City/Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer or Designate, Environmental Management Specialist, Agricultural Technician, Municipal Planning Officer, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer, Livestock Inspector, Head and staff of City Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council, and the Sangguniang Bayan Chair or Member of the Committee on Environment, among others.

The webinar aimed to equip the participants with sufficient knowledge and appropriate skills to respond to rising cases of illegal wildlife trade (IWT) in the country. These include topics on substantive laws and technical skills relevant to wildlife.

For. Modesto Lagumbay, Jr., DENR Enforcement Division Chief, delivered the opening message in Region 13 on behalf of Regional Executive Director (RED) Hadja Didaw D. Piang Brahim and emphasized the need for increased collaboration between the DENR and LGUs in disseminating information on detecting and stopping IWT. He went on further by saying that, for the longest time, the government’s focus has been centered on fighting illegal logging. He shared that the capacity building for LGUs on wildlife laws is important and timely.

For Region 7, Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services, For. Eduardo Inting, Jr., thanked the LGUs for responding to the call to combat IWT in the country. “The DENR cannot do it alone. We need your support to stop these illegal wildlife traders. Through this webinar, we hope you will have clear understanding of our wildlife laws that will, in turn, aid you in your work,” he said.

In his closing message, Asec. Ricardo L. Calderon, OIC, Assistant Secretary for Climate Change and concurrent Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) congratulated the participants who completed the webinar and shared further plans for the future. “My instruction to RED Didaw was, upon graduation, the Region should issue deputation order to all individuals trained on wildlife law enforcement and that the deputation would come from the regional director,” he said.

Asec. Calderon also emphasized the critical role of LGUs in wildlife law enforcement at the provincial and community levels where many of the transgression of wildlife and environmental laws, including IWT, are committed.

“Together with the national government, LGUs also have a responsibility in the management and maintenance of ecological balance. Di kayang gawing mag-isa ng DENR at ng ibang law enforcement agencies ang pagsugpo ng wildlife crimes (The DENR and its partner law enforcement agencies cannot combat wildlife crimes alone). Your involvement is crucial,” Asec. Calderon said.

In particular, Asec. Calderon encouraged the LGUs to intensify their efforts to monitor IWT in their localities in light of the recent “plantito/ plantita” trend where endemic and critically endangered plants are poached and traded. He added that LGUs may hold information dissemination campaigns to remind their residents that buying illegally-sourced, endangered plants is a crime.

He also encouraged LGUs to formulate their own local ordinances or resolutions to strengthen action against wildlife crimes. “DENR-BMB will continue to provide legal and technical support to LGUs in the implementation of Wildlife Act, as well as in incorporating wildlife laws in your local ordinance. If necessary, our partners such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) may provide additional capacity building initiatives to more LGUs to strengthen action against IWT,” Asec. Calderon added.

The abovementioned trainings are part of the support provided by the Project on Combating Environmental Organized Crime in the Philippines, a three-year Global Environment Facility (GEF)-6-funded project executed by the DENR-BMB with the ADB as the GEF Implementing Agency. It aims to combat environmental organized crime in the Philippines through legal and institutional reforms, capacity building in the full law enforcement chain, and reduction of demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife parts and derivatives.