Collared over corals

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While the superhero movie “Aquaman” is making waves in the box office with its spectacular underwater special effects and marine villains driving its ticket sales worldwide, a sinister trader in the Philippines is also making a killing from selling fascinating mementos coming from the DC Comics character’s own water kingdom.

The house of Davy Ang in Tambo, Parañaque City is a virtual counterpart of Aquaman’s ocean realm with huge water tanks filled with live coral, starfish, seashells and other rare oceanic species harvested off the coast of Quezon and Bohol provinces. Ang is not an avid collector of the aquatic creatures, but rather he sells them to local and overseas buyers which is illegal.

Two months ago, no one, not even the police, knew about Ang’s business. But someone tipped the authorities about it. In the last few weeks, agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) did a clandestine surveillance of Ang before setting up an entrapment.

During the buy-bust operation on Wednesday, 9 January, NBI, DENR and BFAR agents raided the compound where Ang’s house is located and discovered the suspect’s secret coral store.
He was taken into NBI custody and is now facing charges of violations of Republic Acts 10654 and 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code.

Under the law, persons and corporations are banned from gathering, possessing, transporting, selling and exporting any corals, except for scientific purposes. BFAR took custody of Ang’s aquatic possessions for inventory and eventual return to the sea.

As for the suspect, he may have his own aquarium, once convicted, with him inside it as an inmate.

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