Manila: Two farmers in Northern Samar were sentenced by a local court for killing a dolphin for its meat.
Judge Decoroso Turla of the Eastern Visayas Regional Trial Court Branch 23 sentenced Eddie Millano and Fernito Gumarao to five years imprisonment after they were found guilty of slaughtering the spinner dolphin (locally known as lumba-lumba) last April.
Commonly found in tropical waters, spinner dolphins are friendly and are known for their acrobatic displays when people are around. They are also classified as endangered under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).
It was reported that on April 5 a dolphin had apparently lost its way from the shore and ended up in at the Bangon River in the municipality of Victoria in Northern Samar.
Millano and Gumarao saw the dolphin, but instead of reporting it to authorities, they took a bamboo pole and speared the mammal to death. Concerned residents who witnessed the incident saw the two taking home the butchered parts of the animal.
“The BFAR 8 [Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Eastern Visayas] conducted an initial investigation through its Fisheries Protection and Law Enforcement Group. The investigation yielded the identification of two suspected offenders, both residents of the municipality of Victoria, Northern Samar, and their cruelty towards the marine mammal,” BFAR 8 said.
A case was filed against the two farmers last May. On October 7, the suspects were arrested in Victoria.
Judge Turla, in his decision, said the two farmers had violated Republic Act 8550 and RA 10654, the country’s laws that prohibits “fishing, taking, catching, gathering, selling, purchasing, possessing, transporting, exporting, forwarding or shipping out aquatic species listed in CITES Appendix II.”
The slaughtered spinner dolphin is included in that CITES list.
Juan Albaladejo, regional director of the BFAR 8, said the judgement is a victory in their intensified campaign on the protection of fisheries and marine resources in the region. He said the decision should “serve as a lesson to all of those who are and who will be continually harming and endangering our marine biodiversity most especially these marine mammals.”
Similar cases of killing of dolphins had been reported before in other parts of the country. It is only recently that Filipinos had been aware of laws that safeguard such endangered animals.