Not too long ago, we learned about the Bacolod Air Rifle Club (BARC) whose unbridled killing of Philippine birds and ducks became the subject of an online petition calling for immediate government intervention. My post on that most disturbing crime appears HERE. Since early December 2007, the BARC has taken down their website in an attempt to cut their losses and cover their tracks. In a desperate bid to avoid culpability, they put out a statement claiming that they never actually existed. The Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), after it was notified of the killings, surged ahead to take the lead in the investigation. Bird and animal lovers like myself are expecting a just and proper resolution to that crisis.
But bad news can get worse, and alibis become dream-like.
Take the case of the three members of the Philippine shooting team who are now accused of violating the Philippine Animal Welfare Act and Section 27 of the Republic Act 9147. It became very evident that photographs, ones they took themselves, point to the fact that they were involved in hunting protected wildlife. Talk about shooting one's self in the foot! The photographs show Tet Lara, Jade De Guzman and Mike De Guzman enjoying a joyride paid for, in blood and misery, by the very Philippine wildlife that those laws meant to protect. The victims lie dead, hung like fruit, or bundled together like dirty laundry. By the trio's own doing, the photographs made it to the web in albums posted at the site of PhilippineShotgun.com. They rested on their laurels, content, happy, and proud. Surely, no one would make a stink.
But, the people cried out...
It seems that the trio considered themselves too clever that in the end they outwitted themselves. The photographs now form circumstantial evidence of their wrong-doing, like a banner that reads GUILTY. In their defense, the trio banked on our credulity, or should I say inferred stupidity, by assuring us that they had only come upon the dead animals, and had no hand in their killing. This was an incredible Hail Mary pass that they hoped the Filipino people would catch without more than a grunt or a whimper. But Filipino fools, it seems, are as scarce as Philippine ducks. I wish we had somethng more than a fairy tale to consider in their defense, but that is the best they can offer-- bad fiction mixed in with a hallucinogenic expectation that Filipinos will accept their story hands down. No one bought it, and no one is going to be their fool. So, let's move on to the photographs and see what we can glean from them.
Perhaps, there is nothing more crass and inhumane than desecrating the remains of a dying animal. Here is Tet Lara, with open-mouth joy and wagging tongue, willfully taunting a duck whose eye was still open. You can see a black dot right below the eyebrow, not possible if the eye was closed. I assure you that this duck was still alive when this photograph was taken. I know this to be true because I spend a lot of time observing ducks and geese, feeding and photographing them, and I have come to a good understanding of their ways. Here are my latest EXAMPLES . I have witnessed cruelty before, usually stemming from anger or neglect, but to mock and ridicule an animal in its death throes takes inhumanity to its zenith. This young lady, evidently, made sure that her triumphant moment over a helpless and wounded duck was captured for posterity.
I would like to believe that the other members of the Philippine Shooting Team, like the general public, would reject such barbaric acts and to openly condemn and distance themselves from such behaviour. It is not good for Philippine sports to have one, or several, of its members practicing animal cruelty. It is unfair to both past and future generations of Filipino athletes to be tagged with animal cruelty even by association only.
The pride and joy derived from this inhumane act is beyond my understanding. I think we need to reach into the deepest and darkest recesses of the human psyche to find the answer. This moment represents the very height of insensitivity and boorishness. I hate to imagine the suffering this animal, and others like it, went through before death actually brought relief. Tet Lara's egregious disregard for animal welfare should not go unpunished. The Animal Welfare Act states, " SECTION 6: It shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, or to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat any animal or to subject any dog or horse to dogfights or horsefights, kill or cause or produce to be tortured or deprived of adequate care sustenance or shelter, or maltreat or use the same in research or experiments not expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare. " Sure as sunrise, no assistance was rendered here. Authorities should take a hard look at this case, and take proper action. And those besmirched by the callous actions of a few should speak out.
As previously mentioned, the three members of the Philippine shooting team, namely Tet Lara, Jade De Guzman and Mike De Guzman, proprietors of the telemarketing company Business Beanstalk, published a statement that attempted to exonerate them from all wrong-doing. Clearly, a mea culpa isn't forthcoming. Their story wherein they come out as unwilling and passive participants in a deadly shootout, is at best fantastic. Their serendipitous discovery does not explain why they were photographed in full hunting gear, replete with cartridge pouches, bird callers, camo gear, and firearm. We are expected to believe that their natural reaction to finding a cache of dead animals was to have themselves photographed in proprietary poses, holding them high like medals, and sporting gleeful faces accompanied by mocking shouts at the wasted wildlife. And how is it that some people can accidentally find themselves sharing a small boat with a large number of dead animals? Kinda bizarre behaviour and suspicious circumstances for people who claim to have nothing to do with their demise, don't you think?
These photographs, and others not included in this post, are full of mockery and disrespect for animals that even the most hardcore, hunting enthusiasts will find them disagreeable. The hunter's code of ethics include respecting the prey, avoiding wasteful killing, and shooting only those that you can consume. The guys at my local hunting/camping store, to whom I intend to show the photographs, will surely turn red with disgust. I might be in philosophical disagreement with them when it comes to hunting ( we are friendly nevertheless), but I think that they will share my sense of outrage for the killing of vulnerable/endangered species and the ridiculing of the near-dead. I don't want to employ ad hominems or to be blatantly rude, but I must stress that this is what happens when you place big-bore guns in the hands of small-minded people. State and national laws are violated, quotas exceeded, and animals in their death throes mocked and desecrated.
Let's look carefully at the group photo. The photo is particularly interesting. It shows Jade and Mike De Guzman ( proprietors of the telemarketing company Business Beanstalk ) with a man who could be Ed Mijares ( someone correct me if I am mistaken). Notice that the faces of the three helpers have been blocked out. This is how the photo was when it appeared in an album misleadingly titled " Argentina, " posted at the website of the PhilippineShotgun.com. I have seen this photo before the faces were blocked out, and I can assure you that no Argentine looks like them. The club has since taken down the photo albums, reminiscent of Bacolod Air Rifle Club's attempt at CYA. However, careless thinking gave the hunters away. Notice the writing on the boat. It says, " Bantay Dagat. " Bantay Dagat is a volunteer force of Filipinos concerned about illegal fishing along coastal areas. You can roughly translate the name to Sea Patrol. Bantay Dagat are the good guys because they care about the environment particularly the fisheries. I'd be darn surprised to find Bantay Dagat in Argentina. I don't think they operate that far. At their website, Bantay Dagat deplores the lack of patrol boats to cover vast fishing areas. Their larger vessels are nothing but enlarged outrigger canoes ( not a putdown on them). In other words, they need all the help they can get. Why is it then that one of their patrol boats appear in a hunting party's photograph? Shouldn't this boat be in service protecting the fisheries rather than used as a hunting plaform? This is scandalous and highly inappropriate. The plot thickens, and somebody ought to stop Bantay Dagat boats from being an accessory to a crime.
Here are Jade De Guzman and Mike De Guzman, proud finders of dead ducks, if we were to go along with their claim. I count 6/7 ducks per bundle and that makes 14 between the two. You can imagine how many more of this most precious, if not endangered, species we've lost when you consider that these fourteen ducks could have grown exponentially in numbers, if they were allowed to live. And there must be more lying dead on the boat's floor. The hidden cost, in lost generations, must be astronomical. It's far from being a laughing matter. Some say that denial is part of guilt, that rumor is premature fact. There is, however, a saying more apt for this situation. I've heard it used in court rooms while I was on jury duty, in heated staff meetings, or in many other contentious situations in life. Logic dictates that if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and flys like a duck, then it MUST be a duck. These photographs tell us, and there are more you haven't seen, that the blood of all these wasted animals is on the hands of this unfortunate trio. They must be held accountable for the violations of the Animal Welfare Act and the Republic Act 9147. The defense and preservation of Philippine natural resources should include the prosecution of those who trash and trample upon it.
I am calling on the DENR to do the job they are suppose to do. Warnings are ineffective. Prosecute the violators and preserve Philippine natural resources for future generations.
Please send a mesage to the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) and tell them to investigate and prosecute this matter. You can send a message here:
Here is a TV news report about the killings, in case you have not seen it:
Here is GMA News :
Here is the statement from Tet Lara, Jade and Mike DeGuzman:
Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2008 01:56:53 -0800 (PST) > From: tet lara >>Subject: Shooting statement> To: kapusomojessicasoho @gmanetwork. com>>>
The pictures in question were taken from a defunct spoof website from last year. It was not meant to be viewed seriously as it clearly stated "there was an expedition with Kumander Robot in Abu Sayyaf Territory", which is obviously fake. These photos are being circulated, not by us, but by some unknown group or groups wanting to blame the decline of bird population on someone. We never stated that we shot the birds - the birds were already dead upon our arrival. Its true that dead birds and people posing with shotguns were in the same picture, and does not look good. Admittedly, this was a poor judgment call. However, to say that the Philippine Team shot down near-endangered birds by merely looking at these photos, is jumping to conclusions. Again, we want to apologize to those offended by the bad-taste photos and the portrayal of the > misconcepcion that its OK to shoot philippine ducks. It is NOT OK. We wish to promote our CLAY SHOOTING sport as an alternative to shooting birds, since it is clearly illegal in the Philippines.
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Here is Juan Mercado's Article:
Here is the DENR's warning:
Atienza warns the hunters: