THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has confiscated misdeclared exotic aquatic wildlife worth P3.5 million in Pasay City.

In a press statement, the BOC Port of NAIA said it seized 180 albino soft shell turtles and 120 pacman turtles and 38,188 various exotic fish on February 10, 2022.

Also seized were various aquatic plants such as 718 anubias plants and 260 pieces of microsorum plants.

Personnel of the Ports Environmental Protection and Compliance Division Enforcement and Security Service (EPCD-ESS) carried out the confiscation.

The BOC Port of NAIA said in its press release that the seized aquatic animals and plants were part of an importation of a certain Aquaxotic Enterprises and originated from Thailand.

The said shipment included animals and plants not declared under the Aquaxotic's permit to import, thus violating Republic Act (RA) 10863, also known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

The BOC Port of NAIA has been recognized by non-governmental wildlife trade monitor Traffic Southeast Asia for the Port's efforts against wildlife trafficking for 2021 which resulted in the interception of 923 tarantulas and other arachnids, 5 centipedes, 66 Philippine and Malaysian reptiles, 22 Thailand bearded dragons and 6 Thailand live tegus.

Non-native black ants

Also, the BOC Port of NAIA has seized three misdeclared export and two undeclared import shipments that contain non-native black ants considered as harmful to public health.

Its records show that the three intercepted export parcels declared as “Lego Kid’s Toy” bound for France, Singapore and Italy were sent by a certain "Shin Yap."

The subject parcels yielded a total of 21 small cups and 21 specimen tubes containing assorted black ants concealed in a Lego box.

Meanwhile, another two suspicious imported shipments from Poland were also subjected to mandatory non-intrusive inspection and physical Customs examination. The same yielded a total of 375 specimen tubes containing black ants.

"Like in other countries, the importation and exportation of non-native black ants are strictly prohibited in view of the danger it poses not only to human health but also to the environment. Studies in China show that non-native black ants are carriers of virus, bacteria and diseases inimical to local ecology, including agriculture and forestry. However, despite common perils and hazards, black ants are also beautiful in appearance," read the BOC Port of NAIA's statement.

The seized black ants were turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and subjected to seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of Sections 11 and 27 of RA 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act), and Section 117 in relation to Section 1113 (f) of RA 10863. (KAL)