Press Release
June 18, 2011


CEBU CITY - Senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, today clarified that he has not issued any proposal banning the export of shells and its by-products.

"I have NOT issued any proposal on the banning of the export of shells and shell crafts in the country as we are still investigating the circumstances of the particular case of the black corals, turtles and other marine life which were apprehended by the Bureau of Customs in Manila last May 1, 2011," Zubiri said adding that "such proposal was made by a resource person by the name of Ms. Anna Oposa of the Law of Nature Foundation who attended the Senate investigation on massive coral poaching. Oposa suggested during the said hearing that these shell crafts be banned and NOT by the committee chair."

Zubiri, however, pointed out that there are laws that regulate the collection and trade of certain shell species that are very rare and endangered. Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora, some shell species are prohibited from being collected, harvested and exported outside of these localities and there are several Philippine shells that are part of the Appendix 1 which covers the Total Ban on the trade of these items.

"So the Shell Craft Industry of Cebu should take note of those particular rare shells and if caught selling or exporting this Appendix 1-listed shells, as Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, it is my duty to file charges in violation of our existing laws. Their accusation that this Representation is merely grandstanding, I think, is ridiculous being that I am the Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources in the Senate which is duty-bound to oversee all our environment laws," Zubiri who authored the Wildlife Conservation Act (RA 9147) which prohibits the sale of endangered species and the destruction of its habitats warned.

"So as long as this shell and shell craft industries of Cebu are operating within the laws and not harvesting endangered Appendix 1-listed species seashells and other marine resources, then they have nothing to worry about. However, if we find out that they are exporting shells and other marine products that are part of the endangered species list, then I will be the first to file charges against these exporters and industry officials. Ignorance of the law excuses no one, so they should be aware of our environmental laws," he added

Zubiri, in fact, does not favor a ban on shell products instead he has urged the government to "focus on strict regulation of its collection and export to make sure that poached items of endangered species will not escape our law enforcement agencies and regulators."

"The Shell and Shell Craft Industries of Cebu should also practice self-regulation. How can they be able to defend these exporters from Zambonga City who collected and transported for sale 10 container vans worth of corals and thereby damaging coral resources covering an area larger than Manila. How could they be defended? That is a wanton destruction of our natural resources. It is not only banned by law but also an immoral act that will affect the future generation," Zubiri lamented.

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