Magtang barangay officials of Tinambac town butchers giant leatherback sea turtle

A giant leatherback sea turtle met its tragic and gory death at the hands of barangay officials and residents of Magtang in the town of Tinambac, Camarines Sur. Photo grab from a video furnished by Romeo Macabangkit to a local paper.

Previously featured here were news items about a giant leatherback sea turtle which laid eggs at Legazpi coastlines and local government agency urges non-disturbance of turtles released by Saipan. Both items lean more on conservation and preservation of the critically endangered specie, which according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, is “two steps” away from being extinct.

But wait, folks in Barangay Magtang of Tinambac town in Camarines Sur may have been ignorant of the fact they did a very disturbing mass action.

Reading the news item, it came to our attention that the person who reported the incident was right there and then at the scene, while the giant turtle was still alive.

He could have challenged the ill-will of many of the residents. But why he just made a video of the event and reported it later is a disturbing fact. He let the barangay folks finish the killing of the turtle before making the report.

Did he let the folks start their gory act so he can use the video as campaign armor against his opponents, as at that time he was running for a post in the barangay elections?

A leatherback sea turtle, about 300 kg and requires several men to carry, was butchered by villagers in a 19-minute video.

Romeo Macabangkit, a resident of Barangay Magtang in Tinambac town who took the video with his cellular phone, claimed the leatherback turtle, classified critically endangered species, was snared in a fishnet on Oct. 18 and butchered on the same day.

Macabangkit, a former member of the village council in Barangay Magtang and at present running for the same position in the barangay elections, accused three local officials in Tinambac town for condoning the illegal act of butchering a critically endangered species.

He said the meat, which was placed in three Styrofoam boxes, was distributed among the villagers who cooked their shares for viand and pulutan.

Under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Arnel Rodriguez said their office will act on the video upon filing of written complaint by anyone with direct knowledge about the illegal act.

Rodriguez, a lawyer, said sworn statements are required to validate and start an investigation to identify the perpetrators before a case could be filed in court.

He said the species must be categorized whether it is an endangered or critically endangered which has stiffer penalty.

Rodriguez said for critically endangered species that are butchered, the perpetrators face a penalty of 6 years and one day to 12 years imprisonment and fine that runs to hundreds of thousand of pesos

H/T- Bicol Mail / Juan Escandor, Jr.


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