Russian national charged for ‘killing’ an endangered sea turtle

DUMAGUETE CITY – Police filed charges against a Russian national Wednesday afternoon for allegedly killing an endangered Green Sea Turtle in a marine sanctuary in Masaplod Sur, Dauin town in south Negros Oriental.

Charged before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office was Anton Likharev, 35 years old, single, of Vladivostok, Russia, said Insp. Bernabe Rubio, the police chief of Dauin.

The Russian national is now under detention at the lock-up facility of the Dauin Police Station. A bail bond of P40,000.00 was set.

Initial police investigation disclosed that around 9:50 a.m. on Wednesday, Bantay Dagat member Froilan Bantayanon saw the said foreigner inside the marine sanctuary, said Rubio.

According to Rubio, the Bantay Dagat (fish warden) saw unusual activity, which caught his attention and prompted him to monitor the said Russian national.

At first, Bantayanon thought the foreigner was just taking underwater photographs but later on the fish warden saw Likharev allegedly trying to pull out something that looked like a spear, Insp. Rubio said.

The foreigner allegedly got out of the water and was bringing with him to the shore something concealed in a towel.

The Bantay Dagat approached the foreigner and when the towel was removed, he saw the Green Sea turtle with a spear on its head.

The turtle weighed nine and three fourths kilos.

Bantayanon said he introduced himself to the suspect and took custody of the spear gun and the turtle, which, unfortunately died due to the fatal injury.

The fish warden then called Dauin Mayor Neil Credo and informed him of the incident.

Mayor Credo instructed the Dauin police to immediately respond to the scene, said Insp. Rubio.

When interviewed by the police, the Russian national said he was going after a fish that he targeted with his spear gun and did not see the turtle resting among the corals, Rubio said.

The foreigner violated Sec. 97 of Republic Act 8550 as amended by Sec. 102 of Republic Act 10654. Sec. 102 of RA 10654 stipulates that it is unlawful to take, catch, gather, sell, purchase, possess, transport, export, or ship out aquatic species listed in the Convention of the International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) or those categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

An offender can be penalized up to PHP5 million and imprisonment of 12 years and one day to 20 years.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) sent personnel who documented the dead sea turtle and buried it, said Rubio.

The Russian national is now under detention at the lock-up facility of the Dauin Police Station. Judy Flores-Partlow/