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Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called on authorities to ensure that maximum punishment will be imposed on repeat or habitual offenders of environmental laws after an illegal wildlife trader who was apprehended and charged last year was again caught in an entrapment operation in Sampaloc, Manila last June 6.

“This illegal wildlife trader probably thought he could do it again and get away with it. Now, I call on the police, the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and government prosecutors to make sure this repeat offender of the country’s wildlife protection law will face heftier fine and spend more time in jail,” an exasperated Cimatu said.

The former Armed Forces chief was referring to 45-year-old Sharon Jonjon Lim, who was arrested for selling illegally trafficked wildlife species online during an entrapment operation initiated by the Sampaloc police in coordination with the BMB, a line bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Lim, a resident of Sta. Mesa, Manila, was supposed to sell two brahminy kites (Haliastur indus), locally known as lawin, for P10,000 each to a policeman who posed as buyer of the endangered birds.

After his arrest, the police and DENR wildlife law enforcers led by BMB senior ecosystems management specialist Rogelio Demelletes conducted a follow-up operation at Lim’s residence where they also recovered a white-breasted sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), and a changeable hawk-eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus). All four raptors seized from Lim were turned over to the BMB.

It was not the first time Lim got involved in illegal wildlife trade. In August last year, he was also nabbed for illegal possession and trade of 13 rare animals, including three peregrine falcons, worth P250,000 in the black market.

This year, Lim is again facing criminal charges for violation of Republic Act 9147, otherwise known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. Under the law, violators may be sentenced to up to six years imprisonment and fined up to P1 million.

Lim was convicted in the previous offense and was sentenced to a jail term of up to two years and fined P40,000. Since his sentence was less than two years, Lim applied for probation.

Demelletes said that Lim, being a repeat offender, is no longer qualified for probation.

“Since he (Lim) repeated the illegal act twice, he might be serving a longer period of jail time and a higher penalty for his unwarranted actions,” Demelletes said. #