Authorities arrested Wednesday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport a Taiwanese tourist who tried to smuggle out 254 pieces of smuggled soft and hard live corals reportedly worth more than P700,000 to Taipei.
NAIA- Customs port collector Carmelita Talusan said her men found the 39 kilos of various live corals inside the two luggages containing the personal belongings of the Taiwanese passenger she did not identify.
During interrogation, the foreigner admitted he purchased the corals for $15,000 or P788,250.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources officials said the “live corals is (sic) subject to further verification and appraisal.”
Talusan said exportation of corals without necessary permits violated provisions of Republic Act 10863 or Customs Modernization and Tariff Act in relation to RA 10654 or Ban on Coral Exploitation and Exportation.
She added the exploitation endangered the Philippine endemic species of corals or precious and semi-precious corals that only exist in the Philippine marine waters.
Punishment for violators is 10 to 20 years imprisonment “and a fine and forfeiture of the subject coral.”
The Taiwanese arrived in Manila with two pieces of luggage but without any personal belongings inside them, except his passports and some cash.
The tourist was under surveillance for 15 days.
Officers of the Office for Transportation Security at the NAIA terminal 3 questioned him about the contents of his luggage where he was later endorsed to the Customs examiners and found out that he was trying to ship out the corals to Taiwan.