It is the biggest illegal giant clam shell haul in the region, according to the coast guard’s Palawan commander, Commodore Genito Basilio.
Anyone who kills or destroys wildlife species categorized as threatened could face two years in prison or a fine of ₱20,000 ($410), according to the Act.
“PCSDS’ [sic] discussion with Dra. Tequillo resulted in learning that she and her group are engaged in the collection and possession of Giant Clam species for commercial purposes without legal authority,” the statement said.
Tequillo claimed she had permission from the Philippine president’s office and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to collect the shells, said the PCSD, adding that Tequillo had no documents to prove this.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s office, the BFAR and the PCSD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“A certain group of individuals” was spreading the false rumor that the PCSD and the BFAR were allowing the collection of taklobo, said the PCSD in a statement on April 13.
Tequillo also asserted the suspected group had a “treasure hunting permit,” but the giant clams are not covered by this, according to the PCSD. The mollusks can only be collected for taxonomic purposes and not for commerce, it added.
Teodoro Jose S. Matta, the PCSD’s executive director, emphasized in Saturday’s statement that the body, which is responsible for regulating the Wildlife Act in Palawan, would “remain firm in the commitment to clamp down on illegal wildlife trading.”