LGUs advised seized corals OK for exhibits
CEBU CITY—Local government units planning to put up marine museums are welcome to exhibit some of the 13,000 black sea fan corals seized by customs authorities here recently, officials said.
The shipment of corals, which came from Zamboanga, was unloaded in Cebu from the MV Lorcon Manila of Lorenzo Shipping Corp. It was misdeclared as metal scraps and consigned to Cebu Junk Shop, a nonexistent outlet.
It actually contained 168 bundles or roughly 375 pieces of endangered corals with an estimated value of P15 million.
On Tuesday, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) turned over the corals to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the region. Both agencies have agreed to distribute the confiscated items to schools, nongovernment organizations and LGUs.
We are asking the learning institutions to coordinate with the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education,” said the BFAR’s regional director, Andres Bojos.
“For the LGUs like Cebu City who would want to put a marine museum, they also are welcome to coordinate with our office,” Bojos told reporters.
The corals will be kept temporarily at the old facility of the Department of Agriculture on M. Velez Street.
The BFAR, BOC and Phil Export-Cebu, the umbrella organization of Cebu exporters, have drafted a memorandum of agreement to ensure the safety of endangered species still at sea, BOC district collector Ronnie Silvestre said.
“We can have the commitment of … (Phil Export-Cebu) members that (the corals) will not be used as raw materials in the manufacturing of their export products,” Silvestre said.
The massive destruction of the country’s coral reefs by poachers was uncovered following a recent failed attempt to smuggle black corals out of the Philippines.
An investigation has been conducted, but the damage has been done and government authorities aren’t expected to bring to justice soon the culprits in the environmental destruction.