One hundred thirty-seven staffers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), law enforcement and regulatory agencies, and local government units (LGUs) based in the National Capital Region (NCR) graduated from two webinar series on Basic Wildlife Law Enforcement Training (BWLE)
Ninety individuals from 12 participating agencies completed the Basic Wildlife Law Enforcement (BWLE) Training held online from October 21 to November 5, 2020. The agencies included DENR-NCR, Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Philippine National Police (PNP), PNP-Maritime Group, and PNP-Aviation Security group. Forty percent of the participants were female.
Another batch consisting of 47 employees of 13 Metro Manila LGUs graduated from the Webinar on Wildlife Laws held between December 1 and December 7, 2020. The LGU participants, 45% of whom were female, represented both the executive and legislative offices, such as the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, Urban Development and Housing Office Bantay Puno, Task Force Manila Bay, City Veterinarian Office, and the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
The virtual trainings aimed to equip graduates with sufficient knowledge and appropriate skills to respond to rising cases of illegal wildlife trade (IWT) in the country, particularly in Metro Manila. The topics covered substantive laws relevant to wildlife as well as technical skills on wildlife identification and wildlife permits.
Regional Executive Director (RED) Jacqueline Caancan of DENR-NCR thanked the different agencies that participated in the training and emphasized that the battle for illegal wildlife trade (IWT) could not be waged and won by the DENR alone. She was particularly grateful to the Project on Combating Environmental Organized Crime in the Philippines for not only supporting the training but also for organizing and providing a platform for collaboration and linkage among agencies with multi-faceted mandates and priorities.
RED Caancan also acknowledged the crucial role LGUs play in wildlife law enforcement.
“LGUs are closer to their constituents and are, thus, in a better position to know who, how and why they violate wildlife laws,” she said.
She added that under the Local Government Code, LGUs were mandated to integrate environmental concerns in local development planning and to implement environmental protection programs.
DENR Assistant Secretary for Climate Change and concurrent Director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Ricardo L. Calderon also laid stress upon the critical role of strong and effective law enforcement in combating transnational crimes. He congratulated the Bureau of Customs and the DENR Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit (WTMU) for their vigilance resulting in the recent seizure of 119 smuggled live tarantulas at NAIA.
The training sessions formed part of the capability-building support provided by the Project on Combating Environmental Organized Crime in the Philippines, a three-year project funded by the 6th cycle of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and executed by BMB and jointly implemented by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and GEF. The project intends to combat environmental organized crime in the Philippines through legal and institutional reforms, capacity building in the full law enforcement chain, and reduction of demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife parts and derivatives.
They were originally set for face-to-face delivery. However, due to community quarantine restrictions on travel and social gathering, the training team led by Tanggol Kalikasan, in coordination with DENR-BMB, DENR Regional offices and Asian Development Bank (ADB), decided to convert them into online trainings that are between two- and three-and-a-half-hour-long per day. ( CIWT/ Garie Rigor, Mary Jean Caleda, Fritzielyn Palmieri, Theresa Tenazas)