The botanist from Philippine Taxonomic Initiative (PTI) has called on the attention of the concerned government agencies to initiate actions to halt the illegal trade of endemic flowers and plants of the Province of Palawan.
According to Rene Alfred Anton Bustamante, executive director of PTI, he has received information about the newly discovered Begonia species “Begonia beijnenii” being sold at the Old Public Market of the City.
Begonia beijnenii, recently published in the scientific journal Phytotaxa where PTI stated the species under the critically endangered category based on IUCN Guidelines, is one of the two species of Begonia that are known as endemic to San Vicente, Palawan out of the 25 species that are known to the province.
“Somebody from Puerto Princesa informed me. I asked [the person] how it is being sold and how much it is being sold,” Bustamante said in a phone interview.
He said that he already informed the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) about the situation and awaits appropriate actions from them.
It was not the first time Bustamante has received information about wildlife trade in Palawan and affirmed that it has been happening for a few months.
“Some other species were being sold a few months ago. [The] thing is, it’s been happening in Puerto Princesa,” he laments. He also said that there was an instance when the species of orchid that is only native to northern Palawan areas was being sold by a local resident of El Nido.
“Wildlife trade isn’t limited to the native animals only. Plants too are being poached from the wild,” he stated.
Bustamante further said, “This case might be about plant trade within Palawan, but there have been many cases where endemic Palawan plants have been sold to Manila and abroad. It’s been going on for a few years.”
In a separate interview with Jovic Fabello, spokesperson of PCSDS, he said that when the matter was reported to them, they took actions right away. Unfortunately, they did not catch the concerned people in Old Public Market and even in “Tabuan” in El Nido last Sunday.
“Magpapalabas na lang muna kami ng advisory at titingnan namin mga permitees ng plants sa Palawan. We will do monitoring activities as well,” he assures the public.
“Pabatid sa mga taga-Palawan at mga plant collector ng lalawigan: mahigpit na ipinagbabawal ang pagkuha/pagkolekta, pagbebenta, o pangangangakal ng mga endemic plant species ng Palawan nang walang kaukulang permit [mula] sa gobyerno. Ito ay alinsunod sa Batas Republika bilang 9147 o ang ‘Wildlife Act of the Philippines’ na nagsasabing dapat proteksyunan, ikonserba at i-manage ang ating wildlife species at hindi dapat abusuhin ayon sa batas,” the PCSD’s Public Information Officer stated.
Also included, he said, are the genetic resources, product/part or by-products of plants, animals or natural resources, or plants that are endemic to Palawan.
“Ang pagkuha sa mga ito, lalo na ang mga halamang kabilang sa endangered species, ay may kaparusahan at pagkakulong na hindi bababa sa limang taon at may kaukulang pagbabayad ng halaga nito sa pamahalaan,” he said.
Fabello added that any information on similar illegal activities may be reported to PCSD through their landline (048) 434 4235 or message them directly through the PCSD Facebook Page.
“Mangyari lamang na ipagbigay-alam sa PCSD kung may nalalaman kayo na gumagawa ng mga ganitong bagay,” Fabello asks the cooperation of the public.