Earlier today, the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources conducted a hearing on alleged smuggling of black corals, turtles, seashells and other marine life. The committee chairman, Mindanaoan Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, led the investigation.
Unfortunately, the consignee of the P35 million worth of seized shipment of black corals, Exequiel Navarro, was a no-show. This led Senator Migs Zubiri to cite Exequiel Navarro in contempt.
And rightly so.
For one, Navarro reportedly promised to cooperate with the investigation and even give the names of the financiers of this syndicate that allegedly smuggles corals and other marine life from the Philippine shores. According to Senator Zubiri, Navarro executed an affidavit on May 3, 2011. Now, he has become a headache. A headache who has most probably “lawyered up” and found someone who could “protect his rights.”
I have a theory — his most possible defense would be is that he’s but a mere dummy. Which begs me to ask — if he truly thinks he’s innocent, why did he not show up in the hearing today? Should we still give Exequiel Navarro the benefit of a doubt?
In a privilege speech delivered two days ago before his fellow Senators, Zubiri said that on May 1, 2011 Super Ferry 5 arrived at the Eva Macapagal Domestic Terminal in Pier 15, South Harbor Manila from the Port of Cotabato. It has on its cargo two-20 footer container vans declared as containing “rubber” and consigned to a certain Mr. Exequiel Navarro. On May 2, 2011, acting on a tip of an informer, elements of the Enforcement and Security Service of the Customs Police Division of the Port of Manila conducted an operation and apprehended the said shipment from Cotabato City. Instead of rubber, the container vans yielded 134 bundles with 21,169 pieces of dried black corals (Sea Fans), 161 stuffed hawksbill and green turtles, 15 bundles or 196 kilograms of Sea Whips and 209 bundles or 7,340 pieces of rare sea shells. The Bureau of Customs immediately seized the items and coordinated with the DENR’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau and DA’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. The items were reportedly taken or harvested from the Moro Gulf and the Sulu Sea.
Under BFAR Administrative Order No. 202, Series of 2000, harvesting and trade of black corals are prohibited and under CITES 1, which the Philippines is a signatory, trade of hawksbill turtles (an endangered species) is also prohibited.
Good God, doesn’t this piece of news just anger you?