An ex-mayor from the southern Philippines is under investigation after she posted pictures of herself cooking endangered turtle eggs on Facebook.
Maria Esperanza Corazon Rillera, a former Mayor of Titay, Zamboanga, captioned her now-deleted post “so yummy”, with photos showing the eggs being cooked. She also said they were given to her by her “lasa” (love) who comes from the Turtle Islands, in Tawi-tawi.
Rillera has apparently deactivated her Facebook account, but screenshots of her posts continue to be shared online.
Michael dela Cruz, officer in charge of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources said today (Thursday, October 25) that they had received an order from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to look into the matter.
Dela Cruz said his staff has been trying to get in touch with the Rillera to demand an explanation of how she was able to procure the turtle eggs.
He added that a complaint by a private concerned individual had been submitted to the presidential palace and the DENR’s head office in Manila.
Under the Republic Act 9147 or the Act Providing for the Conservation and Protection and Protection of Wildlife Resources and their Habitats, poaching or illegal collection of endangered species, such as the eggs of a turtle, can be met with a fine of up to 1,000,000 pesos and prison for up to six years.
The Philippines is home to five of the seven species of marine turtles, all of which are listed as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. In particular, green, hawksbill, olive Ridley and leatherback turtles can be found throughout the archipelago.
Adult turtles are also targeted by poachers, who often sell them on for use in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as for meat.
In July last year, for example, we reported how a boat carrying the bodies of 70 Hawksbill turtles — a critically endangered species — was intercepted off the coast of Palawan.
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