ncr bwle1137 participants graduated from BWLE and LGU Online Trainings conducted by the DENR,
with support from ADB/GEF via Zoom. The said trainings are part of the capacity
building component to combat illegal wildlife trade in the Philippines.

A total of 137 staff from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), law enforcement and regulatory agencies, and local government units (LGUs) from the National Capital Region (NCR) graduated from two webinar series on Basic Wildlife Law Enforcement Training (BWLE)

Ninety (90) individuals from 12 participating agencies were graduates of the Basic Wildlife Law Enforcement (BWLE) Training held online from October 21-November 5, 2020. The agencies include DENR-NCR, Bureau of Animal Industry – NCR, Bureau of Plant Industry – NCR, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Philippine Ports Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Manila International Airport Authority, Philippine National Police (PNP), PNP-Maritime Group, and PNP-Aviation Security group. Forty percent (40%) of the participants were female.

The virtual trainings aimed to equip the graduates with sufficient knowledge and appropriate skills to respond to rising cases of illegal wildlife trade (IWT) in the country, particularly in Metro Manila. These include topics on substantive laws relevant to wildlife as well as technical skills on wildlife identification and wildlife permits.

In her opening message, DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director (RED) Jacqueline Caancan thanked the different agencies that participated in the training and emphasized that the battle for illegal wildlife trade (IWT) cannot be waged and won by DENR alone. She also thanked the organizers, the DENR-ADB/GEF Project on Combating Environmental Organized Crime in the Philippines for not only supporting the training but also for providing a platform for collaboration and linkage among agencies with multi-faceted mandates and priorities.

Assistant Secretary for Climate Change and concurrent Director of DENR-BMB Ricardo L. Calderon, on the other hand, played up the critical role of strong and effective law enforcement in combating transnational crimes. He also congratulated the Bureau of Customs, together with the DENR Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit (WTMU), for their vigilance resulting to the recent seizure of 119 smuggled live tarantulas at NAIA.

Asec. Calderon also reiterated the shared responsibility towards conserving the environment. “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,”

On the other hand, 47 staff from 13 Metro Manila LGUs graduated from the Webinar on Wildlife Laws held from December 1-7, 2020. The LGU participants represented both the executive and legislative offices, such as the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, Urban Development and Housing Office Bantay Puno, Task Force Manila Bay, City Veterinarians, and the Sangguniang Panlungsod, among others. Forty five percent (45%) of the participants were female.

RED Caancan recognized the crucial role LGUs play in wildlife law enforcement. “LGUs are closer to their constituents and are, thus, in a better position to know who, how and why they violate wildlife laws.”
She added that, under the Local Government Code, LGUs are mandated to integrate environmental concerns in local development planning, as well as to implement environmental protection programs. “Your (the LGUs’) authority makes people participation possible,” she said.

In closing, RED Caancan reminded everyone of their intergenerational responsibility, stating that “Hiniram lang po natin ang kasalukuyan mula sa ating future generations.” (Our present is only borrowed from our future generations.)

He added that DENR-BMB stands ready to provide additional capacity building trainings to more LGUs in the future to strengthen action against IWT.

The training sessions were originally set for face-to-face delivery. However, due to community quarantine restrictions on travel and social gathering, the training team led by Tanggol Kalikasan, in coordination with DENR-BMB, DENR Regional offices and Asian Development Bank (ADB), decided to convert them into online trainings that are 2 - 3.5 hours-long per day.

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 Ageny 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.