Filipino-Chinese trader tagged in coral smuggling

Posted at 05/31/2011 12:52 PM | Updated as of 05/31/2011 2:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino-Chinese businesswoman has been tagged as the financier in the foiled attempt to smuggle some P50 million worth of black corals and other marine species from the country.

Toto Suansing, Bureau of Customs Deputy Director, said the businesswoman was identified by Exequiel Navarro who is the consignee of two container vans found to be carrying rare black corals and dead sea turtles. The cargo, estimated to cost P50 million, was supposed to be exported to be made into medicines and decor.

Navarro identified the people behind the poaching of the corals and other marine products but the BOC doesn't want to name them due to a follow up investigation.

"It's a businesswoman from Metro Manila who is Chinese. First time nag-crop up ang name nito na sinabi ni Exequiel," Suansing said.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said he will reveal the identities of the black coral smugglers.

“We should help our law enforcement agencies find the legal arsenal and file the highest possible charges in court and muster the political will to break the backbone of this syndicate. We also call on the Department of Justice or Bureau of Immigration to immediately put on hold-departure list the names of the people being investigated for this crime,” he said.

The Senate will begin its investigation into the smuggling of the black corals and other marine species on Wednesday.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) earlier said 50 years of non-stop destructive commercial and poorly managed artisanal fishing has left only 5% of our coral reefs in excellent condition. Only 1% remains “pristine.”

WWF said the country sits at the apex of the so-called Coral Triangle. Over 27,000 square kilometers of coral reef cover the Philippines seas. A single square kilometer can produce over 40 metric tons of suno, talakitok and other forms of seafood.