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National

Instead of burning them, donate smuggled elephant tusks to schools, museums, lawmaker says

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

Smuggled elephant tusks confiscated by the Philippines' environment department will be better used if these are donated to schools and museums to educate the public on the welfare of endangered animals. 

This was proposed by AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe on Monday, adding that the tusks should "use...it to teach the public, especially the young generations, why ivory trade is banned."

The Philippines is a signatory to the 1989 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which bans ivory trade.

Five tons of elephant tusks were earlier seized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in a public park. The agency said it would burn them but didn't push through after environmental groups opposed the move. 

Batocabe said government authorities should realize the importance of the rare tusks.

“Our children might not be able to see and touch an ivory tusk their whole life, much less a live elephant. We have ivory tusks lying around DENR premises. Why destroy them when they could teach so much to future generations?” he said.

Batocabe has also appealed to DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to reconsider how to highlight the celebration of the environment month.

“Instead of crushing and destroying the ivory tusks, the DENR should schedule a ceremonial turnover of the tusks and invite public school principals and deans of colleges and universities, as well as museum curators and directors and NGO heads,” he said.

He said the ivory tusks should not be compared to other products of illegal trade, like pirated compact discs and drugs, which do not serve any educational purpose, of no benefit to the public and are harmful. 

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