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700 live tarantulas found in cookie, oatmeal boxes

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 05:16 AM April 04, 2019

NOT YOUR AVERAGE COOKIE OR CEREAL A staffer of the environment department’s Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit shows some of the tarantulas found in boxes of cookies and oatmeal at the Central Mail Exchange Center in Pasay City. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines — Customs agents at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) have turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources over 700 live tarantulas found inside boxes of cookies and oatmeal from Poland on Monday.

Naia customs district collector Mimel Talusan said the claimant of the parcel, Jesse Camaro of Caloocan City, underwent inquest proceedings on Tuesday at the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office.

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The parcel was seized at the Naia Central Mail Exchange Center on Monday with the sender identified as Wojciech Pakasz.

The tarantulas worth about P300,000 had been declared as “collection items.” The smaller spiders were inside plastic tubes while the larger ones were in plastic film containers concealed inside nine oatmeal and cookie boxes.

Camaro faces up to a year in jail or a maximum fine of P100,000 for violating Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, meanwhile, lauded the conviction of a woman who had sold a live green iguana—listed as an endangered and threatened species—as “a victory for the battle against illegal wildlife trade.”

‘Unbelievable’ defense

In a ruling last month, Judge Carlo Villarama of the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 36 dismissed Harriet Shelley Velarde’s denial of ownership of the seized reptile as “untenable, unsupported and unbelievable.”

She was found guilty of violating RA 9147 and sentenced to up to two years in jail. She must also pay a fine of P200,000.

Velarde was arrested in July 2018 by the Environmental Crime Division of the National Bureau of Investigation, based on a report that she was selling endangered species in Quezon City.

She was taken into custody after she received payment for the iguana priced at P10,000. —With a report from Jhesset O. Enano

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TAGS: Jesse Camaro, NAIA, smuggled tarantulas, Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act
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