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Espinosa keeps 15 pythons as pets

TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 8 has recovered 15 snakes being kept as pets in the house of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa last August 13.

DENR 8 Director Leonardo R. Sibbaluca said that an anonymous caller called his office Friday asking if Mayor Espinosa and his son Kerwin had the necessary permits to keep pythons in their house in Sitio Tinago, Barangay Benolho, Albuera.

After finding out that the Espinosas have no permit to keep wildlife, Sibbaluca formed a team to rescue the animals.

Sibbaluca said that of the 15 pythons, 11 were Philippine pythons while the four were imported from Burma. The team also found a dead python in the house.

The smallest python, a local species, is the size of the thumb. The biggest, also a Philippine python, is five meters long and big enough to swallow a dog, pig, or a small boy.

The biggest Burmese python has the size of the human leg more than four meters long and the smallest the size of a human arm.

Sibbaluca said the animals were weak and hungry. They were brought to the DENR 8 Regional Wildlife Rescue Center in Palo, Leyte.

Sibbaluca sent a veterinarian to examine the animals’ condition. “If the animals are already healthy enough, they will be released to their habitat, one of the DENR 8 protected areas in Eastern Visayas,” he said.

Sibbaluca said his office will file a case in court against the Espinosas for violation of Republic Act 9147, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

President Duterte had named Espinosa and Kerwin as prominent drug lords in the Visayas. (Restituto A. Cayubit)