MANILA—The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Tuesday said operatives of the NBI-Environmental Crime Division (NBI-ENCD) have arrested 10 persons for illegally possessing and selling giant pearls still attached to giant clams.
In a statement, the NBI identified the suspects as Jonathan Aceres, Victor Aceres, Gerardo Cerezo, Manuel Tempra, Norberto Enverzo, Jesusalora Oliva, Vincent Tanggara, Dixie Marie Madridano, Natranillo Lariosa and Nonito Grandia who were arrested Monday in an operation along T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila.
The operation was based on the information received on Dec. 19, 2016 that a group of individuals from Tarlac is engaged in selling giant pearls from a taklobo or giant clam which is considered as endangered species.
An informant was able to contact the group last month regarding the sale of giant pearls.
Subsequently, the group offered for sale the giant pearls allegedly weighing at least 30 kilograms at PHP150,000 per kilogram. Photographs secured from suspects reveal that the pearls are still attached to the valve of a giant taklobo.
Operatives, through the confidential informant, haggled with the suspects for the price of the giants pearls who agreed to deliver the three giant pearls.
On March 13, the entrapment operation took place wherein Oliva led the poseur buyer to one of the vehicles and showed him a giant pearl. The same poseur buyer was later led to another vehicle where three pieces of alleged giant pearls attached to the giant taklobo valves were found. Upon verifying the presence of the giant clams, operatives arrested the suspects and seized the giant pearls.
The suspects were brought to the NBI for booking procedures and the recovered specimens were listed in an inventory and shown to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) technical personnel.
Appropriate tests conducted by the BFAR showed that the recovered items were in fact giant clams commonly called True Giant Clam and or Tridacna Gigas (scientific name).
The suspects who are now detained at the NBI headquarters in Manila have been charged with violation of Section 102 of RA 8550 (The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998) as amended by RA 10654.