Press Release
May 7, 2021

Hontiveros urges PCG to drive out Chinese vessels illegally harvesting giant clams in the WPS


Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) should ward off Chinese fishermen who may continue to illegally harvest giant clams, locally known as taklobo, in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), amid reports that Chinese militia vessels are still loitering in our territories.

"China's crimes are piling up. The PCG recently spotted Chinese poachers around Pag-asa Islands stealing our taklobo. These giant clams should be protected, as clearly stipulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which China is a party. Hindi niya na nga sinusunod ang UNCLOS, hindi pa masunod ang CITES," Hontiveros said.

The senator said the Philippines had previously lodged diplomatic protests over China's giant clam harvesting in the WPS. In 2015, the protest was filed based on a report by the PCG that two dozen Chinese utility boats were seen collecting taklobo around Scarborough Shoal. And another protest in 2019, based on a report by the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) stating that Chinese vessels were mass harvesting giant clams also in Scarborough.

"The PCG should also employ the help of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the NTF-WPS in looking out for these illegal activities. Paigtingin natin ang kooperasyon ng ating mga ahensya kasi matitigil lang natin ito ng sama-sama. Magtulong-tulong na tayo hindi lang sa pagtataboy ng mga barko ng Tsina, kundi sa paghuli din sa mga ilegal na kumuha ng yamang dagat natin," Hontiveros said.

"We must also explore how we can make illegal poachers accountable. Kung napaparusahan natin ang mga Pilipinong sumasali sa illegal trade ng taklobo, hindi ba dapat pati rin ang mga dayuhan?" Hontiveros asked, adding that under the Philippines' Wildlife Protection Act, killing of endangered species is punishable by up to 12 years imprisonment and fines of up to P1 million.

Last month, four Filipinos were arrested in Palawan after the seizure of P1.2 billion worth of giant clams. The senator cautioned that the illegal trade of taklobo is seen to rise because they are now being used as replacement for ivory, following a widespread campaign and crackdown on the illegal trade of elephant tusks.

"Mayaman sa taklobo ang Pilipinas. The western part of Palawan is known to be a 'poaching hotbed.' Dadami at dadami ang may gustong mang-abuso ng ating mga likas-yaman, kaya dapat palakasin natin ang ating pagbantay," the senator said.

"I trust that the PCG, along with BFAR and NTF-WPS, can confront Chinese vessels that further endanger our marine life. I know our officers on the ground and in the water are very capable of doing so, as we've recently seen in their radio challenge to Chinese vessels in Sabina Shoal. Napalayas nila ang mga barko ng Tsina sa simpleng pag-tindig. Ito ay patunay din na kaya natin igiit ang ating karapatan, at kaya tayong ipagtanggol ng kapwa nating Pilipino," Hontiveros concluded.

News Latest News Feed