Celso tackles black corals issue; vows to help in Senate inquiry PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 14:12

Mayor Celso Lobregat yesterday met with concerned agencies tasked to unearth details concerning the illegal trade of marine products, as he prepares anew to appear before the Senate committee on environment and help in the investigation of black corral smuggling issue.

This, after he assisted the Senate sergeant at arms in serving the subpoena to Olivia Li, Jo Pring and JKA Trading, summoning their appearance to the second day of the inquiry at the Senate today. Li and husband Pring including JKA are pinpointed as involved in the smuggling of the P35 million worth of protected marine products seized in Manila last May.

The mayor, who attended the Monday inquiry at the Senate arrived early yesterday morning after which he immediately convened the concerned agencies to find out what and how the city government can do to help in the investigation and ultimately bring the culprits to the bar of justice.
In a press briefing after the meeting yesterday, Lobregat vowed to help shed light on issues brought forth before the Senate Monday based on the clarifications and reports of the agencies concerned.

One issue extensively discussed in the executive meeting was about the cases filed before the Prosecutor’s Office against Olivia Li, owner of Li and Lim Trading for similar offenses in 2007 and against Li’s husband Jo Pring and some employees of Yuscom with address in San Roque for similar offenses in 2008. These complaints were not filed in court.

The meeting also sought to ascertain the exact identify of Li’s husband who is said to have numerous aliases. The BID was asked to help in the identification. Li’s whereabouts also formed part of the discussion including the business permits issued to the businesswoman.
Meanwhile, Mayor Lobregat said the seizure in Manila and its corresponding cases are separate incidents from the discovery of tons of protected marine products at the Yuscom warehouse leased to Li in San Roque last weekend.

He stressed there will be separate charges that will be filed which is why the legal officers of the BFAR, DENR, CIDG and other concerned agencies are working closely to ensure an airtight case. “It is a sequel, it started as an investigation of what was confiscated in Manila and from that it led to the opening of the warehouses and then disclosure that there were items in the warehouse complex”.

The mayor said there are numerous legal angles and aspects that are being looked into before the actual filing of the case or cases in Court.
On the other hand, the chief executive said he is appalled and saddened by the wanton destruction of corral reefs and other protected marine species as evidenced by the tons of items discovered at the San Roque warehouse.

As of now, the authorities are certain that the marine species are extracted in other areas and brought in to Zamboanga City, which is made as a consolidation point before these items are sent to other points in the country or possibly the world. “What has been taken out can no longer be placed back (at sea). Even if they were extracted outside of Zamboanga City, it is really a big loss to our environment.”

Present during the executive meeting held at the City Hall conference room were representatives from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), City Prosecutor’s Office, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Environment and Natural Resources(DENR), Protected Area and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID), City Licensing Division, City Treasurer’s Office, City Assessor’s Office, City Environment and Natural Resources Office, City Agriculturist Office, City Police, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and other concerned agencies. — Sheila Covarrubias