Authorities have arrested four suspects in the illegal trade of 200 tons of fossilized giant clam shells or "taklobo" worth P1.2 billion in Roxas, Palawan.
Joint forces of the Coast Guard Intelligence Group Palawan, Coast Guard District Palawan, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), the Philippine National Police – Maritime Group Palawan, Armed Forces of the Philippines - Intelligence Operatives, and Bantay Dagat Roxas on Friday conducted the operation at Sitio Green Island, Barangay Tumarbong.
In a statement, Philippine Coast Guard District Palawan Commander Commodore Genito Basilio said the incident is considered the biggest giant clam shell haul in Palawan to date.
The suspects were identified as Rey Cuyos, 54, Rodolfo Rabesa, 48, Julius Molejoa, 47, and Erwin Miagao, 40, who were arrested for violating Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
A report from the PCG said the arrested Filipinos sell giant clams to foreigners.
“So far the biggest na nahuli namin. Paunti-onti nilang iniipon. Hinuhukay nila doon sa parang may bundok doon sa isla. Hinuhukay nila. ‘Yun iba doon naman mismo sa dagat,” Commodore Genito Basilio, PGC District Palawan Commander, said.
(So far the biggest that we have caught. They slowly gathered them. They're digging them in a mountain-like area on the island while they take the others straight from the ocean.)
“Merong barko na manggagaling Japan or manggagaling China para hakutin itong mga giant, itong mga fossilized giant clams na ito [A boat will come from China or Japan to load the fossilized giant clams],” he added.
The suspects, who denied the crime even if authorities said they were caught on the act, were brought to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) for inquest proceedings and filing of appropriate cases.
The PCG suspects that a big group may be behind the illegal sale of the giant clams.
Giant clams have a big role in maintaining the ecological and marine life in the seas, according to the Marine Environmental Protection Group. - with Joahna Lei Casilao/MDM, GMA News