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World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Philippines

The Philippines Matrix Project

El Nido Environmental Enforcement Team Honoured (27 Nov. 2009)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Five civilians were honoured for taking part in a daring night-time raid which netted seven poachers and 13 endangered sea turtles off El Nido in northern Palawan last April.

Honoured last 19 November were Edward Lorenzo, Jacques Arzaga, Zosimo Dangan, Ronald Tonacao and WWF Administrative Assistant Christopher Zata. The awards were presented during the 8th anniversary of Joint Task force Malampaya (JTFM), a composite team from the different units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines which protects northern Palawan from poachers and illegal fishers.

The awards were presented by JTFM Commander Col. Esteban Castro. Other military awardees are Cdr. Michael Ordono, LCdr. Romeo Requilman, TSgt. Ludevico Rovillos, Qtr Master 3rd Class Aranan Jalaludin, Second Man Class Electronics Technician Denmark Torres, Sgt Renato Apiado and Sgt. Michael Violante.

Aside from the main duty of securing the Malampaya Gas to Power Project, the task force has for years seen action against foreign poachers, often illegally hunting for sea turtles – the shells of which are used for tortoiseshell – a material used as far back as the ancient Greek and Roman eras to fashion jewellery, combs and brushes. Dried and mounted turtle shells are also sold as curio items across Southeast Asia.

Apprehended last 7 April near El Nido’s Cawayan Isle was a speedboat with seven Chinese nationals and 13 dead green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas). The poachers have been charged with the violation of Sec 87 or ‘poaching in the Philippine waters’ of RA 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.
On 29 August 2008, 101 dead hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) were recovered from Vietnamese fishing vessel Q.ng 91234-TS five nautical miles east of Cabaluan Isle in El Nido.

On 6 July 2008, four Vietnamese aboard vessel Q.ng 95986 were arrested for alleged poaching off Guntao Isle, again in El Nido. Four other fishing boats, believed to be Vietnamese, escaped.
Foreign turtle poachers are no strangers to El Nido’s rich waters, dubbed as the ‘Poacher’s Paradise’ for the frequency of foreign intrusions.

Adds WWF Project Manager RJ de la Calzada, “Our message is clear – El Nido does not tolerate poaching in any form. Hand in hand with Task Force Malampaya and our allies, we shall continue our vigilance in protecting northern Palawan’s rich marine sanctuaries.”(30)


WWF (World Wildlife Fund for Nature) Media Release
27 Nov. 2009

For more information, please contact:
RJ dela Calzada
El Nido Project Manager, WWF-Philippines


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