By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) won its case in court with the conviction of an individual who killed a Rufous hornbill, a threatened bird species locally known as kalaw, in Ilocos Norte province in 2014.
Bangui Regional Trial Court Judge Conrado Ragucos sentenced Michael Datu to a jail term of up to four years after he pleaded guilty to killing the kalaw, which is penalized under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Protection Act.
The case stemmed from a photo posted on the Facebook page of Wild Bird Club Philippines showing a man, who was later identified as Datu, holding up a dead kalaw and with a rifle hanging across his body.
This prompted an investigation by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Bangui.
With the help of the local police and some witnesses, Datu was tracked down and made to admit he was the man in the photo and that he “accidentally” killed the bird.
After the case was filed in court, Datu was arraigned twice.
During his first arraignment, he pleaded not guilty to the crime. He later on changed his mind and pleaded guilty during rearraignment.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu lauded the court ruling as a “decisive victory for the country’s wildlife as it sends a strong signal that wildlife crimes cannot go unpunished.”
He said DENR “will continue to uphold its mandate in protecting the environment, particularly the diverse biodiversity species that comprise the multitudes of ecosystems in the country.”
Rufous hornbill, also known as the Philippine hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax), is a large species of hornbill found only in the Philippines and is listed as among the terrestrial threatened species under DENR Administrative Order 2004-15.
The bird is categorized as “vulnerable” under the Convention of the International Trade in Engangered Species of Wildlife Flora and Fauna, a global treaty to protect endangered plants and anim
Tags: biodiversity, bird, conviction, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), ecosystem, investigation, killing, Manila Bulletin, Person who killed threatened bird species sentenced to 4 years in jail