Changing Planet

Philippines to Prosecute Ivory Smugglers

A Cebu priest known for his collection of religious icons carved from ivory may have incriminated himself with his revelations on the illegal trade in an investigative report appearing in National Geographic and reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Philippine newspaper reported on its front page today.

Monsignor Cristobal Garcia could face up to four years in prison unless he could show proof that his ivory collection was acquired legally, the Inquirer reported the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Tuesday.

Bryan Christy reported in the October 2012 issue of National Geographic that he traveled to the Philippines to understand the country’s ivory trade.  In the town of Cebu he met Garcia, a senior Catholic cleric and one of the best known ivory collectors in the Philippines, who told Christy how to smuggle religious carvings from illegally obtained elephant ivory into the U.S. Trade in ivory is banned by an international treaty signed and verified by both the Philippines and the U.S.

From today’s Inquirer‘s story: “Mundita Lim, director of the DENR-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), said regional environmental officials launched a probe of the report that the priest was in possession of ivory Sto. Niño figures acquired using questionable means. ‘He has to be able to show that he has a CITES permit from us,’ Lim said, referring to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. She said the only “legal” ivory allowed in the country was the kind that was taken before the convention took effect more than 30 years ago. ‘Otherwise we will charge him with illegal possession of ivory and illegal trade, if there’s evidence he is also involved in buying and selling,’ Lim said in a phone interview.”

Lim told the Inquirer the National Bureau of Investigation would take the lead in the filing of formal charges against Garcia and possibly others who might be involved if the investigation turned up sufficient evidence.

Read the whole story.

12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.

Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

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Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn
  • Marcelo

    He is Catholic Bishop! He represent God, he is addressed as Father. Meaning like Father in Heaven. They owned all that is created, they represent the their Creator or the creator of everything. Those who will persecute them will go to hell.

  • Christian

    Marcelo, are you ironic or serious? If he represents God, he better be a worthy representative. A child-abusing elephant poacher stays a child abusing elephant poacher, irrespective whom he is representing. And no, the catholic church, of which I am a member, does not “own” African elephants. And, by the way, if I address a toilet bowl as Father (capital “F”), what does that tell you about the toilet bowl? Nothing. And about me? That I’m either incredibly indoctrinated, drunk, or a fool.

  • Flo Mar

    he’s not a bishop, he’s just a monsignori. And Marcelo, there’s only one “Father” in heaven, that why Jesus even said, not to call anyone on earth as “father” much more, he’s not worthy of such a title, intiendes?

  • Marcelo

    A toilet is never indoctrinated to us to call it a Father, only someone who is representing God. Disrespect to the Father of the Church is disrespect to God! Those ivories are created to express tangible belief in God! Money is not a question, it is expensive, but it helps clean man of his earthly sins! everytime we see an expensive Sto. Nino God it reminds us that we did our share as man, shared some of our earthly wealth for the cause of the Sto. Nino God. Sto. Nino God is Jesus Christ our Savior when he was still an infant!

  • Marcelo

    We also have a Senior Sto. Nino God, it is the elder or the toddler Jesus Christ our Savior. Please remember that God was born to save us from sins that was made by Adam and Eve so we can go to heaven. Without Jesus we will go to hell so God came, was born, to give us Eternal Life! It’s just an ivory and Jesus Christ created them!

  • Ienzo

    Christian from Europe, don’t listen to Marcelo, he is either an atheist making satire or a sincere idiot. Either way, such idiots should not be allowed to bait your anger.

    Marcelo, if you are an atheist, then don’t post satire here; it is unflattering and misleading.
    If you are a a Catholic, then you are not a real Catholic and a fraud.

  • Noel Dy

    I’m appalled both by Cristobal Garcia’s actions,and by Marcelo’s comments.

  • Marcelo

    @Flo Mar

    You said ” not to call anyone on earth as “father” much more”. Are you a Catholic? We call our priest Father or father. It’s still father! We call the head of the our Mother Church in the Vatican , Papa or Pope! That is another word for father or Father for your information. They represent the Father in Heaven! Their words is holy coming from God Himself.

  • Marcelo

    @ Noel Dy

    You said “I’m appalled both by Cristobal Garcia’s actions,and by Marcelo’s comments”. Sorry if you feel that way. Anyway, the Greater Father in Vatican, our Pope, already stripped him off his priesthood. We now other Fathers to serve us. God caused this for a purpose.

  • Marcelo


    You said ” If you are a a Catholic, then you are not a real Catholic and a fraud. What do you mean by that, a Catholic but not a real Catholic? Are you casting the first stone here? Do you want me to read to you the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary? I am praying over this computer and posting that you will be enlightened. But its okay, you slap me on my right cheek and will give you my left!

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