Dried seahorses — used to treat impotence in China — seized in Zamboanga

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seahorses

Dried seahorses worth 3.6 million pesos have been seized from smugglers who were planning to sell them on the Chinese market as natural Viagra.

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Officers of the Philippine Coast Guard announced the discovery of the protected sea creatures hidden among a consignment of plastic scrap in Zamboanga today (Thursday, August 16).

Dried seahorses — or hippocampus — are used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat erectile disfunction and can sell for up to 35,000 pesos per kilogram.

Zamboanga Coast Guard Station commander, Lieutenant Commander Noriel Ramos, said the shipment was discovered in a 20-foot container van at about 2.30pm yesterday.

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He said the Oceanic Container Lines van was searched after a tip-off that it was loaded with an undetermined amount of banned aquatic products bound for Manila.

Lt. Cdr. Ramos said they coordinated with the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Philippine Ports Authority and intercepted the truck.

He described how the dried seahorses were packed in 15 sacks that were hidden among bags of plastic scraps.

The shipment was consigned to one Ramon Sayson with a business address in Caloocan City. However, he has denied any involvement, claiming he was informed by one of his workers that a certain ‘Tan’ of Tawi-Tawi had added the sacks to his plastic scrap shipment without his knowledge.

Lawyer Lyceo Martinez, Bureau of Customs district collector, said Sayson would still undergo investigation, saying that “being the owner of the 20-footer van shipment, he should be knowledgeable” about it.

Pedling Munap, BFAR chief regulations officer, said the collection and sale of seahorse was prohibited under Section 97 of Republic Act No. 8550, otherwise known as “The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998”.

He said it is also in violation of RA 9147 or the “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act”.

Lt. Cdr. Ramos said: “Time and again, we have heightened the security and campaign against all forms of smuggling activities in the local port, together with other government agencies. This apprehension now is a result of our intensified drive against all forms of illegal shipments.”

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