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Online Petition Got Sea Turtle Released in the Philippines

Residents of Turtle Island shortly before releasing the sea turtle. Photo by Ma Cecilia Mendioro Gendrano

Residents of Turtle Island shortly before releasing the sea turtle. Photo by Ma Cecilia Mendioro Gendrano

A Change.org petition succeeded in persuading local officials in a Philippine province to release a captive pawikan (sea turtle). Pawikans are listed as endangered species.

Initiated by Rochelle Prado, the petition was signed by more than 1,500 individuals:

…in Turtle Island, Guimaras, a Pawikan is kept tied and released only for purposes of photography at the cost of 5 pesos per tourist. The locals are the best stewards of endangered species within their vicinity, yet there is a lack of awareness about the need for these creatures to be set free and undisturbed in their natural habitat.

…release the Pawikan and ensure that this practice will not continue by working hand in hand with the residents of Turtle Island in programs directed towards preserving and protecting their seas and marine life.

Jesse Vego of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources immediately responded by releasing the pawikan:

… I was quite surprised that there is a petition being circulated when the petitioner, Rochelle Prado, had not even communicated with my Office. I should thank you for that because had it pushed through it will put my Office in bad light

… the alleged Turtle Island, a place which cannot be located in the official map of the province, the island being alluded to is actually a part of the mainland

Escorting the sea turtle back to the sea. Photo by Ma Cecilia Mendioro Gendrano

Escorting the sea turtle back to the sea. Photo by Ma Cecilia Mendioro Gendrano

Sea turtle going home. Photo by Ma Cecilia Mendioro Gendrano

Sea turtle going home. Photo by Ma Cecilia Mendioro Gendrano

Change.org reported the good news:

VICTORY! Congratulations to Change.org Philippines petition starter Rochelle Prado. Through her efforts and help from 1,645 others, the DENR Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) has freed the captive Turtle island pawikan that was being used for paid photo-ops.

An alternative livelihood should be provided to residents in the island, according to Minerva Glindro:

The government needs to provide programs that provide a better livelihood for the locals that will make them stewards for their ecosystem. Simply releasing the turtles won't stop the cycle.

Implement environment laws, said Rene Mikhael Resurreccion:

I don't even know why we NEED a petition. If it's against the law, then just freaking do what must be done.

Anyway, this is important to me as even though that turtle may not have a brain as sophisticated as ours, it must feel lonely and BORED sometimes, can't it? Anyway, that turtle may serve a purpose much higher than serve as a source of photo souvenirs. It could propagate the multiplication of its species for example.

Pinky Arturo saw how pawikans were abused in the island:

I was able to go there when we visited the island.. I felt nothing but pity for the creature. They should stop this and free the turtle!

  • Inday Espina-Varona

    Thanks, Mong! Jesse Vego should be commended for quick action, no doubt about that. But maybe he should ask the PAWB office in the national DENR HQ as to why he wasn’t informed of the petition. Change.org Philippines had informed PAWB of the petition :)
    Cheers and more power!

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