5 nabbed for selling 'pawikan' soup in Cebu City

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 11) — Five people were nabbed Tuesday after being caught selling "pawikan larang" or turtle stew in Cebu City.

The arrest was made during a joint entrapment operation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Bureau of Investigation and the local government unit in Cebu City. They had not name the suspects as of this posting.

The DENR earlier received a tip that the stewed dish of sea turtle or 'pawikan' was being served by ambulant vendors in Barangay Pasil.

In a statement, DENR Region 7 Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales said the trade and transport of the wildlife species are illegal under the constitution.

"The Republic Act 9147 or Conservation and Protection of Wildlife Resources and their Habitats Act expressly provide that the collection, trade or transport of wildlife without appropriate permits from the DENR is punishable by imprisonment and fine," Gonzales said.

"Specifically, killing and destroying these wildlife species is punishable by imprisonment ranging from four years to six years, and a fine of P50,000 to P500,000," he added.

Authorities collected around 94.5 kilograms of raw pawikan meat, as well as approximately 20 kilograms of cooked pawikan stew.

The arresting team also confiscated six heads of butchered pawikan, of which two were adult, two juvenile, one semi-adult and one yearling.

Gonzalez noted the green sea turtles are considered as endangered species that are facing extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.