The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Western Visayas recently hosted the “9th Training of Trainers (ToT9) on the Application of the Wildlife Law Enforcement Manual of Operations” among national government agencies.

In collaboration with the region’s Enforcement Division, the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Protect Wildlife Project, the ToT9 was conducted with participants coming from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), PNP-Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Navy (PN), Local Government Units (LGUs), Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the DENR’s provincial and community offices.

ToT9 aims to strengthen the knowledge and understanding of the participants of Republic Act 9147 also known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001. They are also expected to disseminate the new rules and procedures for environmental cases and the application of the Manual of Operations in the enforcement of Wildlife Act.

“This training came timely since we are strengthening the enforcement of environmental laws. Thus, it is necessary to empower our field personnel with the knowledge and skills they need to enforce the provisions of the Wildlife Act. This will result to a more conserved and protected wildlife resources in the region,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.

During the ToT9, the participants were taught how to explain the important provisions of Wildlife Act and how to conduct wildlife species identification and proper handling. They were also taught how to identify and explain the steps to be taken by an enforcer in effecting detection of wildlife crime, the arrest of offenders and seizure of items and effects of wildlife crimes. The Fisheries Code as amended and Fisheries Enforcement Protocol were also explained to the participants, with emphasis on penalties and rules on endangered marine wildlife.

In strengthening the enforcement of the law, the participants learned the basic steps in monitoring and investigating wildlife cybercrime, and gained knowledge and skills on proper documentation of wildlife crime scene, including collection, handling and preservation of evidence. A mock trial was conducted for the participants to experience how to testify in court. They were also briefed on the issuance of a search warrant.

Atty. Edward Lorenzo, a USAID Representative, underscored the threat of wildlife trafficking in the country during the training. “The Philippines plays a very important role when it comes to wildlife trafficking in the region. It is both a poaching area and a major transhipment point,” he said.

The training is seen to boost the DENR’s efforts in the region to curb illegal wildlife activities such as poaching and wildlife trade to promote sustainable biodiversity management. It is also in strong support to Secretary Roy A. Cimatu’s Enhanced Biodiversity Conservation, which is one of his ten priority programs./DENR 6