A Philippine trial court judge denied extending a 72-hour Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) that was issued last Friday 12 October by the same court. Environmental and animal rights and welfare groups sought to stop the Philippine government from issuing a re-export permit to 25 bottlenose dolphins caught in the wild in the Solomon Islands and being kept at the Ocean Adventure Park in Subic, Philippines for training until the Oceanarium at the Resorts World in Sentosa, Singapore opens.
The petitioners led by Earth Island Institute - Philippines and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society asked the court to stop the re-export of the dolphins as the concerned government agencies violated the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act (Republic Act 9147) and the CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and other international agreements when they issued the import permits.
Judge Evangeline Castillo-Marigomen denied extension of the TEPO since, according to her, the petitioners failed to present any evidence even as the petitioners' lawyers insisted that the verified (under oath) complaint is their evidence and they were willing to call any expert the court desires during the trial proper.
The judge said that the respondents are government agencies and that being government agencies, their actions are always deemed regular. The judge also said that with respect to CITES, there was "no trade involved" as the dolphins were sent merely for training.
As for being wildlife, the judge said, "They are already owned. The dolphins are like pets owned by somebody else already. It's (sic) no longer part of wildlife."
The petitioners' lawyer, Amelito Antonio Velasco responded, "It is dangerous to call them pets, Your Honor."
Main petitioner Trixie Concepcion of Earth Island Institute Philippines said that they will appeal the ruling.