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Philippines strengthens commitment to combat wildlife trafficking

Davao City (Philippines), 16 September 2016
- The Republic of the Philippines is stepping up its commitment to address wildlife and timber trafficking by improving the criminal justice responses to these crimes. A number of coordinated training courses, including in the illicit wildlife transportation and trafficking hub of Davao City, have been rolled out to scale up capacities across the criminal justice spectrum.

At a four-day course in Davao City, 25 investigators underwent intensive training on 'Controlled Delivery and Surveillance to Investigate Wildlife and Timber Trafficking', which was organized by UNODC in partnership with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) under the Department of Justice.

"We value the rich biodiversity of the Philippines and we are committed to protecting it" said Attorney Auralyn Pascual, Chief of the Training Division of the National Bureau of Investigation. "It is important for NBI investigators, along with our colleagues from other enforcement agencies, to learn and utilize advanced investigative techniques that can increase the effectiveness of our efforts to dismantle the organized criminal groups responsible for wildlife trafficking."

Controlled delivery is an investigative technique that can be used when an illicit consignment is detected, allowing the consignment to go forward under the control and surveillance of law enforcement officers in order to secure information and evidence on the criminal network and trafficking routes involved. The training course used simulation exercises with GPS tracking devices to demonstrate how to safely and lawfully conduct a controlled delivery.

UNODC is also working with the Philippines to implement other complementary training courses, including a three-day course on 'Anti-Money Laundering Investigations to Combat Wildlife and Forest Crimes'. This training course was held in Manila at the end of June in cooperation with the National Prosecution Service under the Department of Justice, to provide best practices and practical exercises for 30 prosecutors and investigators to link financial investigations to the commission of wildlife crimes.

In addition, to the face-to-face training, more than 120 officials from the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime are enrolled to participate in a series of 14 online training modules relating to various phases of the investigation of wildlife and forest crimes, which have been developed in cooperation with UNODC's Global eLearning Programme.

The Philippines is also taking action to strengthen anti-corruption measures and improve the national and regional-level response to corruption in wildlife and forest crime, with the Office of the Ombudsman hosting a two-day national workshop in October and a two-day regional workshop in November in partnership with UNODC.

"UNODC welcomes the engagement of the Philippines as a new implementing partner in 2016 in efforts to address wildlife and timber trafficking," said Mr. Giovanni Broussard, Regional Coordinator of UNODC's Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime. "We look forward to seeing the Philippines take these initiatives forward to improve the role of the criminal justice system in combating the illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources."