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Southeast Asian countries urged to work together vs illegal wildlife trade

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By Charissa Luci-Atienza

A woman lawmaker has urged other Southeast Asian countries to join the Philippines in fighting against illegal wildlife trade (IWT), citing that the Philippines loses at least P50 billion a year due to IWT alone.

Cong. Josephine "Nene" Y. Ramirez-Sato (Facebook/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Rep. Josephine “Nene” Y. Ramirez-Sato (Facebook/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Occidental Rep. Josephine “Nene” Ramirez Sato made the call during recent Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference at Evolution, Battersea Park, London.

“I urge countries in Southeast Asia to initiate a regional initiative to ensure a collaborative and connected response against IWT,” she said.

Sato, who heads the Philippine delegation to the London conference, said there should be global effort to protect and conserve biodiversity.

She noted that in the Philippines, all stakeholders are helping out to fight IWT, living out the Filipinos’ time-honored tradition of “bayanihan” or “heroism”.

“The Philippines loses at least P50 billion a year due to IWT alone. These include revenue that should have been paid by illegal wildlife collectors and traders, the market value of the resources involved, the ecological role of the wild-collected resources and the damage to their habitats incurred during poaching,” Sato said.

She assured that the Philippines has been stepping up its efforts to fulfill its commitments to the London Declaration on IWT, and that the government continues to work to eradicate the market for illegal wildlife products.

Sato cited that courier service providers who were being used by unscrupulous traders, are now the government’s partners in combating illegal wildlife trade.

“We have also launched the “stop IWT campaign” targeting agencies and private entities operating in major air and seaports. These include airline companies, boat and vessel operators, cargo forwarders and courier service providers. To date, the campaign has covered 20 air and seaports all over the Philippines,” she said.

Sato noted the Philippines is currently rolling out the Philippine Wildlife Law Enforcement Action Plan, the country’s roadmap to address wildlife crimes for the next 10 years — from 2018-2028.

“It will also serve as a guide in prioritizing enforcement actions, fund-sourcing, resource allocation, and evaluating the impacts of enforcement work in the Philippines,” she said.

The United Kingdom has invited Sato to attend the event.

“In order to tackle this detestable trade successfully, it is vital that there is a commitment to intensified, rapid and concerted action by the highest levels of government and relevant international organizations,” according to a letter-invitation from the British government.

The letter was jointly signed by Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Secretary of State Michael Gove of the Department for Environment & Rural Affairs, and Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt of the Department for International Development.

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