Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu today welcomed the filing of charges against a truck driver found illegally transporting 21 frozen Palawan pangolins and 16 dead marine turtles in Puerto Princesa City on Saturday.

“This is an outright disregard of our environmental laws, particularly our Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection law. There is no justification for the smuggling and killing of our wildlife species,” Cimatu said on learning of the apprehension conducted jointly by the DENR’s community environment and natural resources office and the Philippine National Police in Puerto Princesa City.

Charged by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), an attached agency of the DENR, for violation of Republic Act No. 9147, otherwise known as the Philippine Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, at the City Prosecutor’s Office is Joshue C. Arellano. He is now under the custody of the Puerto Princesa police.

Cimatu urged the Philippine National Police to dig deeper into the case to expose other perpetuators of the crime.

At the same time, the DENR chief extended his appreciation for the hard work and dedication done by DENR-MIMAROPA, and the rest of the apprehending teams in tracking down illegal wildlife trade and putting environment culprits behind bars.

"It's going to be a tough fight but I know you're in for the long haul. Do not falter because we are one in making sure our wildlife is protected and conserved for our future," Cimatu said.

DENR-MIMAROPA Director Henry Adornado said that based on report, Arellano was driving an Elf truck when he was flagged down at a security checkpoint in Brgy. Sta. Lourdes in Puerto Princesa. On inspection, it was found that he was carrying 21 frozen Palawan pangolins and 16 dead marine turtles. The Elf truck had no plate number.

When questioned by authorities, Arellano kept mum on his cargo. He was also reportedly carrying an unlicensed .38 caliber pistol when he was apprehended.

The smuggled items were described in the report as consisting of “21 pangolins, which scales were removed and then frozen; and 16 marine turtles (one green turtle and 15 hawksbill), which intestinal parts were also removed and with their heads and shells left intact.”

According to Adornado, both the pangolins and marine turtles are classified as endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).