As probe on marine poaching deepens, Some people have to answer — Celso PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 10 June 2011 15:42

As the Senate investigation on the illegal trade of protected marine species deepens, Mayor Celso Lobregat is personally overseeing the local probe being conducted by agencies concerned stressing that the city means business in searching for the truth and ensuring that the culprits are punished.

This, as Mayor Lobregat yesterday morning convened another executive meeting with all agencies and offices involved in the investigation, fact finding and eventual prosecution of people embroiled in the smuggling of seized marine products in Manila and the discovery of tons of similar items in a warehouse in San Roque recently.
Included in the meeting at the City Hall conference room yesterday were representatives from the City Prosecutor’s Office and the National Bureau of Investigation—the agencies involved in the supposed filing of charges against Olivia Li and husband Joe Pring, who carries a number of aliases (Jo Peng Li, Jo Peng, Li Yu
Ming, Lee Yu Ming, Lee Nyuming) for violations of fisheries and marine wildlife laws in 2007 and 2008. The couple’s name is again embroiled in the latest case.

In a press briefing, Mayor Lobregat said the prosecutors were invited to brief them on the possible questions that would be asked during the Monday inquiry at the Senate where they are also invited.

During the meeting, he said, the prosecutors have intimated that they are reviewing the case and are set to file the charges in Court either yesterday or today.
“Some people have to answer”, the chief executive said referring to some discrepancies in actions of various agencies involved in handling the issue ever since the illegal trade was discovered a few years back.

The initial investigation at the Senate shows that Zamboanga City is made as the transshipment and consolidating point of the banned marine products which are extracted or poached in other areas.

The mayor said the city government will do its part—the best way it can to help ensure that the illegal trade is stopped and that those involved in the illegal business and their cohorts are sanctioned.

“We mean business here and we want to make sure that there will be no haoshao in the investigation of this incident”, the mayor said, stressing that he is initiating the meetings to ensure coordinative efforts of the many agencies involved in dealing with the case allegedly involving the Li couple and the others concerned.

On the other hand, the mayor said the volume of corrals seized in Manila and discovered in the San Rouque warehouse is a result of not “extraction” but “quarrying” of corrals.

“The corrals that have been quarried do not come from the seas in Zamboanga City, but even if they do not come from seas in Zamboanga City, it has taken perhaps hundreds of years for those corrals to grow into that size and what has been taken out cannot be put back, so it is really a rape of the seas”, he lamented.

Also pesent during the meeting were representatives from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Protected Area and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID), Regional Police Director’s Office, 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