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Smuggling of turtles foiled

By BETHEENA KAE UNITE

An attempt to smuggle wildlife species bound for Taiwan was foiled Friday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

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Seven packages loaded with 123 Chinese Soft Shell Turtle mixed with live eels were intercepted by agents of the Bureau of before it could be brought to Taiwan via China Airlines CI-704.

According to Customs chief Isidro Lapena, the turtles were reportedly from Pampanga and have no export permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“It was through profiling and manual examination of the Export Division that the bureau was able to intercept the shipment of 3H Enterprises Ltd.,” said Lapeña said during a press conference Saturday.

Lapeña said that according to the DENR, the said type of turtles are allowed for exportation, however, exporters should comply with required permits from the agency.

Further verification showed that the shipper’s address is at 97 Panginay Guiguinto, Bulacan while the consignee is Jan Birt Co. Ltd. with address at 1F-1, No. 178, Sec. 1 Zhengxiao E. Rd. Zhongsheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan.

According to the DENR, Soft Shell Turtles are in demand in China and are being sold for 29 to 40 dollars.

“This soft shell species, it is exported to Taiwan because it is in demand in that country,” Lapeña said.

It was also disclosed that the Soft Shell Turtles were “actually pests in Pampanga and Bulacan.”

Soft Shell Turtles, DENR said, are invasive species that eat fish, snails, and “they almost eat everything in the farm because they are invasive species.”

“These turtles aside from being endemic to China and Taiwan can also be farmed. They are usually harvested for food and folk remedy tonics, however, it is a regulated export, a permit from DENR must be secured first prior to exportation,” NAIA District Collector Ramon Anquilan said.

DENR also said Filipino entrepreneurs found a way to make use of these pests and exported it to Chinese as food.
The Customs bureau will turn the seized animals over to the DENR for disposition while the turtles will be brought back to their natural habitat.

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