Recently, more than 100 Bantay Dagat (sea patrols) and Bantay Kalikasan (forest and wildlife rangers) members from Panglima Sugala municipality in Tawi-Tawi province participated in USAID Protect Wildlife project’s intensive training on enforcing fishery, forestry, and wildlife laws.
The Bantay Dagat forces were trained on basic marine navigation and detection of illegally caught fish. In a seaborne exercise, they learned boarding protocols and rules of engagement when apprehending fishing vessels. Meanwhile, the Bantay Kalikasan were taught proper methods of measuring illegally harvested timber and were able to test their newfound skills in simulated apprehension exercises. Both groups were also oriented on various Philippine environmental laws, intelligence gathering and surveillance, planning and conducting arrests and seizures, and procedures in filing environmental cases.
Tawi-Tawi is the southernmost province of the Philippines, where rich terrestrial and marine wildlife—some of which are endemic to the Sulu Archipelago—are under threat from habitat loss and unsustainable fishing.
Mayor Regie Sahali-Generale of Panglima Sugala expressed her gratitude for USAID’s support in strengthening environmental law enforcement in her municipality. After the training, the Bantay Dagat was deputized by the local government to guard Panglima Sugala’s marine protected areas and municipal waters, while the Bantay Kalikasan was deployed to protect the town’s forests and wildlife, particularly in the Upper Malum watershed. (Protect Wildlife Project)