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Friday, February 03, 2012

Davao council urged to declare turtle-eaters ‘persona non grata’

Davao council urged to declare turtle-eaters ‘persona non grata’


DAVAO – Mayor Sara Duterte urged the City Council to declare owner of a Korean vessel, its crew, and the Indonesian missionaries onboard as “persona non grata” after dumping parts of a green sea turtle in a garbage bin in a wharf in this city.
Once declared as persona non grata, the parties involved will no longer be allowed to enter the jurisdiction of the city by land or by sea.
Hannah Parks, owner of MV Hannah II, has issued a public apology on the controversial incident.
She said the sea turtle, which was given to them by the president of Palau during a recent visit, was slaughtered there and the remains were kept in a freezer as they started traveling to the Philippines in November last year.
Parks said they dumped the sea turtle's carcass in a biodegradable-labeled garbage bin inside the Sta. Ana pier because they don't want to throw it into the ocean.
Parks's explanation did not sit well with the mayor who instead urged the City Council to be quick in declaring them as "persona non grata" or unwelcome person.
“Ano akala nila sa atin, maliliit ang utak (Do they think we’re dumb)? If they killed and ate (the sea turtle) in Palau, why travel all the way to Davao with the carcass? I saw the pictures, it wasn't decomposing,” Duterte said.
Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are listed as endangered by both the World Conservation Union and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
The inedible parts of the slaughtered turtle, including the head, were brought to the attention of a news crew of TV5 by residents around Sta. Ana Pier last Thursday. The MV Hannah II has been docked at the pier since November last year.
Duterte said MV Hannah crew along with its owner and the Indonesians onboard cannot do whatever they want here in the city.
"They should understand that we don't tolerate this (act) in our city. We have supported their visit so they should respect the city," the mayor lamented.
She added that since the city has been very supportive with their endeavors, such as extending services to the less fortunate in the Asia-Pacific region, they should also reciprocate by abiding the laws of the country.
Emmanuel Isip, technical regional director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said he sees no violation in what the foreign vessel crew did because the sea turtle was slaughtered in a foreign land. The country's law does not cover crimes committed outside its jurisdiction.
Green sea turtles are listed in Appendix I of Cites, and being included in Appendix 1 means a species is threatened with extinction and affected by trade.
Commercial trade in wild-caught specimens of these species is illegal (permitted only in exceptional licensed circumstances).
Parks said they were not the ones who caught and killed the turtle. They also did not buy it, but admitted they ate it.
The Republic of Korea, Palau, and Indonesia, along with the Philippines, are among the 175 countries that are signatories to Cites. (JOP of Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

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