324 pieces of Giant Clam Shells and 126 pieces of freshly cut mangroves were seized in Johnson Island, Bgy. VI, Roxas, Palawan through the joint operation of PCSD Enforcement team, Philippine Coast Guard Station Roxas- Palawan, Roxas LGU Bantay Dagat, CGIG-Palawan, MEPFORCE-Palawan, EODU-Palawan and Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 on March 3, 2021.
The said operation was made to conduct search and recovery operation concerning the giant clam shells discovered by the team of Philippine Coast Guard Station Roxas-Palawan and Bantay Dagat Roxas on the same island last October 12, 2020.
It took some time for the team to do the seizure operation as they waited for a vessel which they could use for the said activity. On March 3, 2021, the opportune time came as the LCT Bigfish Reef vessel became available and was used by the team in the conduct of the recovery and hauling of the giant clam shells on the island, which have an estimated value of Php 160,000,000.00.
The seized freshly cut mangroves were just accidentally spotted by the other members of the team as they were inspecting the area. They confiscated and hauled them together with the giant clam shells onboard the LCT Bigfish Reef vessel.
Based on the report, the freshly cut mangroves were allegedly owned by Brgy. Captain Augosto Abonales of the said Barangay and that the collection of giant clam shells was allegedly under his supervision.
The 126 freshly cut mangroves and 12 Giant clam shells from the recovered 324 Giant clam shells were placed under the custody of PCSD as evidence for the filing of appropriate charges against the person involved for the violation of R.A. 9147 or the “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.” The remaining 312 Giant clam shells were turned over to the Barangay officials of the said area for temporary custody.
The Giant Clam or locally known as “Taklobo” is now in the list of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and determined by Fisheries Administrative Order 208. Fishing or taking, gathering, selling, purchasing, possessing, transporting, exporting, forwarding or shipping out” of taklobo is deemed unlawful under Republic Act 10654, or the Philippine Fisheries Code. Any person caught violating the law will be held administratively liable to “three times the value of the species, or P300,000 to P3 million.” The violator may also face an imprisonment of “five to eight years, and a fine equivalent to twice the administrative fine, and forfeiture of species.”