Mayor orders probe on coral smuggling PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 03 June 2011 17:01

Mayor Celso Lobregat has instructed City Environment and Natural Resources Officer Reynaldo Gonzales and City Agriculturist Diosdado Palacat to get into the bottom of the alleged smuggling last week of black sea corals in Cebu.

“I instructed them to coordinate with other agencies concerned like the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to investigate the matter,” Lobregat told reporters after Coast Guard authorities in Manila pinpointed to a company in San Roque, Zamboanga City as the origin of the illegal shipment.
It can be recalled that some P15 million worth of illegally extracted black sea fan corals and other endangered marine resources smuggled to Cebu allegedly from Zamboanga City were confiscated by Bureau of Customs in Cebu last week.

The report said that the contraband was supposed to be shipped to Manila but the smugglers had diverted the cargo to Cebu after another marine and wildlife products were seized in Manila ports.

The same report said that the cargo was declared as scrap metal but the smuggler, a certain junkshop owner in Cebu, was found to be fictitious. Seized by Cebu Customs operatives were 168 bundles of dried black sea fan corals valued at P15 million.

As this developed, Manila Coast Guard authorities during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources chaired by Senator Miguel Zubiri Wednesday pinpointed a company in San Roque, this city, as the origin of the illegal marine shipment seized by the Customs Bureau.

Senator Zubiri, also during the hearing, had threatened to cite for contempt and arrest Exequiel Navarro, alleged consignee of smuggled black corals and turtles, for failing to attend Wednesday’s hearing at the Senate.

“We wanted to know who is the mastermind and financier of this shipment. But unfortunately, he is not here this morning and we will give him until noon time to appear. If not, he will be cited for contempt and arrested,” the senator was quoted as saying during the hearing last Wednesday. — Vic Larato