Privilege Speech delivered
by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri at the Philippine Senate on
February 27, 2008 in the presence of members of the Wild Bird
Club of the Philippines, His Excellency, Ambassador David
Pine of New Zealand, PAWB OIC Director Josie de Leon and Dr.
Members of the Wild Bird Club in attendance were Leah Cerdena, Arne
Jensen, Benedict de Laender, Alex Loinaz, Benedict Lu, Michael Lu, Leni Sutcliffe, Mark
Senate of the Philippines
By Sen. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri
27 February 2008
A Tale of Two Hunters
Mr. President, on a number of occasions I rise on this August Chamber,
in defense of the environment and to expose violations of our
environmental laws. Today is no different from those instances. I
will not cease to stand on this floor as long as our environmental
laws continue to be flagrantly violated. I ask our distinguished
colleagues to bear with me on this crusade, if only to call everyone's
attention, especially the public and the executive branch, which is
supposed to zealously implement our laws. And, we too in the
legislative can do something, to amend the law, if necessary, or in
the exercise of our oversight powers, to look into the culpability or
neglect of our law enforcers and executive officials. This humble
representation is not only passionate about environmental advocacy, it
is a way of life for me.
On December 13, 2007 an article in Philippine Daily Inquirer
by columnist Juan Mercado tackled the "slaughter of the birds"
in several towns in Negros Occidental purportedly by the members
of a loose organization called Bacolod Air Rifle Hunting Club.
The grisly photos of shot birds displayed on the internet
by some members of the Bacolod Air Rifle Hunting Club led
to the accidental discovery of this illegal activity by Mr.
Josef Sagemuller while surfing the internet in search of information
on birds in the Philippines. He then alerted the Wild Bird
Club of the Philippines represented by Mr. Michael Lu and
his members present at the gallery today, together with Ambassador
David Pine of New Zealand, and some members of the diplomatic
corps, who share a passion for conservation. The discovery
sparked the drive for 10,000 signatures by the Club to curb
this slaughter and call the attention of authorities. The
photos displayed hundreds of slaughtered doves, mallards,
whistling ducks, snipes and other endemic and endangered species,
according to Mr. Lu. In an attempt to cover up their illegal
deeds, after the photos posted in their website caught the
attention of environmentalists, the Bacolod Air Rifle Hunting
Club shut down their website.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri delivering
priviledge speech on hunting and poaching
What is worse is the blatant denial of some of its
members that it ever happened, well, a picture speaks
a thousand words! And at this point, distinguished
colleagues, let me show you some of these gruesome
photos of massacred birds which were downloaded before
the website was pulled-out. (Play slides.)
So that the authorities would have something to start
their investigation with, let me name their group:
some members of the Bacolod Air Rifle Club and some
members of the Philippine National Shooting Team.
A certain Mr. Gino Castandielo was the one who posted
the photos in the internet, one of which shows Ms.
Tet Lara, Mike and Jade De Guzman of the Philippine
National Shooting Team who had posted their own lame
excuse for the compromising photos.
These people's names cropped up in their
own website, just before they shut it down. Others were even
interviewed and admitted to this illegal activity but pleaded
that they were not aware of RA 9147 or the Wildlife Resources
Conservation and Protection Act. Have they not heard of the
legal maxim "ignorance of the law excuses no one?"
What frustrates me the most Mr. President is the inaction of
our DENR officials at this brazen violation of our wildlife laws. I
will get to that later on.
In another hunting expedition, this fellow from New York by the name
of Jay T. Carlson is enticing foreign tourists for an exciting and
different hunting activity in Mindoro. He is the outfitter for the
hunting activities and advertises his hunting expedition in the
internet as the Mindoro Safari.
According to reports posted in the website:
www.huntingreport.com, The Mindoro Safari is a 12 to 14-day
itinerary with 10 hunting days in the field and for a fee
of US$10,500. to US$12,500. The hunt is done totally on foot
in the thick jungle of Mt. Halcon in Mindoro with the help
of the Mangyans. Mr. Carlson started this hunting expedition
in 2002 and has pioneered some fascinating hunts for Asian
water buffalo and Philippine sambar deer. They also take wild
boar and bearded warty pig as hunt trophies. "Clients
may take a second buffalo for an additional US$1,200. A fit
client should expect to collect two primary species with additional
species collected as time allows. Most clients shoot three
animals. Hides are prepared for shipment/dip and pack. All
paperwork is processed for export," says the report published
in April 2005.
Mr. Carlson's first client in 2002 was Hunting
Report Honor Roll subscriber Truman Clem, who took an Asiatic
water buffalo. According to Mr. Clem, "the hunts are
best marketed to the Safari Club International (SCI) hunter/collector
who is looking for unique species found nowhere else."
Mr. President, what they romantically call as Asiatic water buffalo is
nothing but our hardworking domesticated carabao, the poor animal was
probably standing by itself or even tied to the ground when it was
killed. It may not fall under the CITES list of endangered species
but nevertheless, it would violate RA 8485, The Animal Welfare's Act,
a law against cruelty to animals.
And if the November 2007 report posted in their website is to be
believed, it is still ongoing with a possibility to include in the
hunt the 12 to 18 foot crocodiles that have been seen in their hunting
These crocodiles Mr. President are one of the most endangered fresh
water crocodiles in the planet. They are known as Crocodilus
Mindorensis and are numbered only in the hundreds left in the wild.
If these reports are true, then Mr. President, this fellow should be
prosecuted, fined and should serve his sentence in our jails as
stipulated in Section 28 of RA 9147. After which, he should be
deported as a menace to the environment.
I would like to also ask our Bureau of Immigration to look into Mr.
Carlson's immigration status as we have reports that he has overstayed
his tourist visa.
Wildlife roles in our ecosystems
Birds and wildlife have important roles to play in the chain
of life. Decimating their populations would threaten the viability
of all ecosystems. Birds play a key role for the Philippine
environment. They eat fruits and disperse the seeds over wide parts
of land that are crucial in revitalizing our forests. Some
nectar-feeders such as the olive-backed sunbird are important
pollinators. Seabirds improve the ecology of small islands by
producing large amounts of guano which enriches the island's soil,
allowing less adaptable plants to root.
More than 200 Philippine birds, out of 600 resident and
migratory species, are included in the World Conservation Union's red
list of critically-endangered species. Among them are the Philippine
cockatoo, the Negros fruit-dove and the Philippine eagle, considered
as the world's largest eagle.
The most unique animal feature of Mindoro must be the
tamaraw (Bubalus Mindorensis), or dwarf water buffalo. The tamaraws
are endemic to Mindoro. There were around 10,000 tamaraws in Mindoro
in the 1900's. By the 1960's only about 300 had been counted in the
wild making it rarer than the black rhinoceros of Africa, China's
panda and the tiger. It was listed as critically-endangered in 1970.
The latest official count placed their numbers to 263.
The World Conservation Union cites habitat loss from cattle
ranching and farming, hunting and diseases as the major threats to the
Another threat to biodiversity conservation Mr. President,
are the continuous poaching activities for the pet trade. It still
saddens me to find out from my friends that they still see the rare
Philippine Cockatoo or Katala or even Mouse Deer being sold at stalls
in Cartimar, Arranque Market and other provincial markets were these
species are found. Once again, in clear violation of our laws.
Mr. President, I strongly condemn these illegal hunting and poaching
activities which could lead to the extinction of many birds and mammal
species which are endemic to the Philippines.
I would like to remind these violators of the provisions of RA 9147
--- Wildlife Conservation Act, which I had the honor to author in the
11th Congress together with the distinguished members of this Chamber,
Section 27 of Chapter IV on Illegal Acts:
a. killing and destroying wildlife species;
f. collecting, hunting or possessing wildlife, their by-products
Section 28 of Chapter V on Fines and Penalties:
a. imprisonment of a minimum of six (6) years and one (1)
day to twelve (12) yeard and/or a fine of One Hundred
Thousand Pesos (P100,000) to One Million Pesos
(P1,000,000), if inflicted or undertaken against
species listed as critical.
b. imprisonment of four years (4) and one (1) day to six (6)
years and/or a fine of Fifty Thousand Pesos
(P50,000) to Five Hundred ThousandPesos (P500,000), if
inflicted or undertaken against endangered species
I ask our Committee on Environment to investigate this issue and
determine the gross negligence and responsibility of our environment
officials, particularly the Regional Directors of these areas and the
Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Personnel. Why do they allow
these illegal and immoral activities to continue? When will they
muster the political will to prosecute these people?
I suggest Mr. President that we, together with the environmental
groups file cases with the Green Ombudsman Task Force to look
at cases involving environment officials who commit gross
negligence of their duties and mandates.
I also ask the Philippine
Sports Commission, if the members of the Philippine
National Shooting Team mentioned in this privilege speech
are still part of the present National Shooting Team
to suspend their financial and logistical support to
the Philippine National Shooting Team until an investigation
is conducted and those responsible have been identified.
Even before they could bring honor to the country in
international competitions, they already brought disgrace
to our people and to the entire sports community by
their illegal hunting activities.
Mr. President, this is not just about
conservation. It's about biodiversity, natural heritage,
legacy and ecological balance. Instead of putting out
life, these poachers should modify their motivations
to that of creating life. Instead of seeking gun permits,
why not apply for breeding permits and set up wildlife
breeding farms for conservation, trade and/or scientific
WBCP members group photo with
Nene Pimentel and Senator Migz Zubiri
Mr. President, we must put a stop to these illegal hunting activities
that threaten the survival of species which are endemic to the
country. We must seriously look into this issue and prosecute those
who would be found violating our laws.
In Psalm Chapter 104, Verse 24: "How
many are your works Oh Lord! In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your beautiful creatures."
And here they are, ladies and gentlemen, destroying God's beautiful