The cruel slaughter of the country's whale sharks and other protected fish species continue in the Southern Philippines.

On Sept. 9, the Philippine Coast Guard based in Zamboanga City led by LtJG Jimmy Berbo seized an estimated 1.6-tons of sharks' tails and fins and meat believed to be that of the endangered "Butanding" or Whale Shark.

The illegal cargo was brought to Zamboanga City from the Western Islands by MV Kerstin, a ferry boat plying the Tawi-tawi-Jolo-Zamboanga City route.

The Coast Guard reported that a certain Ben Gumbahali, who claimed to be a friend of the owner of the shipment, tried to claim the part of the shipment that was not categorised as illegal catch.

LtJG Berbo, however, refused to release the shipment and instead turned this over to the City Government of Zamboanga for its disposition.

The capture and slaughter of Whale Sharks is considered an international crime.

The Whale Sharks and the Manta Rays are still being hunted in the waters of the country inspire of these species being classified as endangered and protected by international laws.

Yesterday when I received the report about the seizure of the illegal shipment from Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Isidro Velayo, I issued an order for a deeper investigation into the incident.

I will also ask the Dept. of Transportation which has direct supervision over MARINA, to investigate the skipper and owner of MV Kerstin which allowed the loading of the illegal cargo.

I also ordered the BFAR director to intensify its monitoring of illegal fishing activities in the waters of Zamboanga, Basilan and the southern islands.

The slaughter of these endangered and protected species must stop.

Mas Bago Mas luma