Photos of an unidentified man sitting on a back of a sea turtle, known as a Pawikan (Hawksbill Turtle) in Samar went viral on social media a few days ago.
The said picture came from the Facebook account of a Jose Lastimado. In the said picture, the foreigner as sitting on top of the Pawikan which was tied in a bamboo. The owner of the picture stated that the endangered animal was released back to sea after the picture was taken.
The photos were captioned “Big catch Pawikan in Brgy Sta Rita Marabut Samar (sic).”
According to Atty. Danilo Suarez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) community environment and natural resources office in Samar, the pawikan was caught through a fish net by a certain Jessy Amora, a kilometer away from the shoreline of the village, on August 5 around 1:30 a.m.
Corazon Horca Makabenta, officer-in-charge of the DENR’s conservation and development division said the pawikan was released after the DENR took photo documents and measurements at 11 a.m. in the morning that same day.
Makabenta, through her Facebook account, also thanked the public for their expression of concern and support.
It is stated in the law that any person who “maltreated” the pawikan would be charged with violation of Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
In line with this, Lastimado deactivated his Facebook account after the pictures went viral.