ASEAN Working Group on CITES and Wildlife Enforcement (AWG-CITES & WE)

Dr. Esteven Toledo from BMB (2nd row, 3rd from left) poses with delegates of the 12th Meeting of the ASEAN Experts Group on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (AEG- CITES) in Siem Reap, Cambodia on 25 March 2016. [AEG CITES Secretariat]

The ASEAN Working Group on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and Wildlife Enforcement (AWGCITES and WE) was organized in 2016 during the 18th meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials for Forestry (ASOF) to continue the role of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and the ASEAN Experts Group on CITES (AEG-CITES).

The AEG-CITES was adopted in 2004 as a commitment of ASEAN Member States (AMS) to cooperate on improved implementation of CITES, including the enforcement of the Convention. ASEAN-WEN, meanwhile, was officially launched on 1 December 2005, as a regional inter-agency and inter-governmental initiative to counter the illegal cross-border trade in endangered flora and fauna. As the world's largest wildlife law enforcement network, it was composed of customs, police, prosecutors, specialized governmental wildlifelaw enforcement organizations and other relevant national law enforcement agencies from across the ten AMS. Thailand hosted the ASEAN-WEN and AEG-CITES since their establishment until 2016. The AWG on CITES and Wildlife Enforcement operates under the ASEAN Senior Officials on Forestry and is hosted by the ASEAN Secretariat. In the Philippines, however, the activities are under the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the DENR.

The Philippines was among the first five AMS along with Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia to establish a national task force on wildlife enforcement. The country created the National Anti-Environment Crime Task Force which operated from 2004 to 2008. It was followed by the institution of the Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade (POGI) in 2013, with members from the National Bureau of Investigation, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Bureau of Customs, Philippine National Police and DENR. The POGI is tasked to investigate ivory smuggling, cross-border poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the country, and file appropriate charges against natural and juridical persons who violate Republic Act 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001) and its implementing rules and regulations. The Philippines was the first non-elephant range state to destroy government-held stockpiles of elephant ivory that illegally entered the country.
Focal Office:
Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB)
2016 Reconstituted as AWGCITES & WE
Focal Persons:
Veterinarian III
Senior Ecosystems Management Specialist

Wildlife Resources Division, DENR- BMB
Tel. No. (632) 925 8946, 925 8952, 925 8953

The roadmap of the AWGCITES and WE is included in the Strategic Plan of Action for ASEAN Cooperation on Forestry 2016-2025 (Please see
Policy Issuances:
DENR Administrative Order 2016-12 Adopting the Philippine Strategy and Biodiversity Action Plan (PBSAP) 2015-2028
Sources / Relevant Links:


In support of the first strategic thrust of the AWGCITES & WE, the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) developed the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP) 2015-2028 which serves as the country's roadmap in conserving biodiversity. It has the aim of improving human well-being through enhancing ecosystem services and improving biodiversity status. The PBSAP is also aligned with local and global plans such as the Philippine Development Plan (PDP), the President's 10-point Agenda, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The PBSAP was adopted by the DENR Secretary on 13 June 2016 through Administrative Order No. 2016-12.
The DENR-BMB also initiated the development of the Wildlife Law Enforcement Action Plan (WildLEAP 2018-2028). The Plan serves as a guide in combating illegal activities against wildlife, in particular, covering those species under the DENR's jurisdiction. It is also meant to identify and prioritize enforcement activities, and serves as a guide for fund sourcing, allocation, and evaluation of the impacts of enforcement work in the country. The Plan is being finalized and will be endorsed to the Office of the Secretary for consideration.
On the fourth strategic thrust the BMB, in partnership with the US Department of Interior (USDOI) and USAID, conducted the "Training of Trainers" on the application of the Wildlife Law Enforcement Manual of Operations. The training aims, among others, to:
i) Promote better understanding of Republic Act 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act and enhance capacity of Wildlife Enforcement Officers (WEOs) and partners, including local government units and civil society, in the enforcement of the said law following the standards and protocols provided in the Manual; and
ii) Develop a pool of trainers who can assist the Bureau in disseminating the provisions of RA 9147 and in building enforcement capacities at the local and national levels.
For the past nine years, more than 450 Wildlife Enforcement Officers (WEOs) from the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), PNP-Maritime Group, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Department of Justice, Local Government Units (LGUs) and DENR Regional and Field Offices, among other agencies had been trained. The ninth training was held in July 2019.

The Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards, which started in 2014, recognize law enforcement personnel and private individuals who are instrumental in the arrest and filing of cases against wildlife crime offenders, and the rescue of various wildlife species, most of which are threatened with extinction. From 2016 to 2018, 201 individuals were honored during the celebration of World Wildlife Day (WWD) for their contribution to government efforts to end wildlife trafficking.
The Stop Illegal Wildlife Trade Campaign was initiated in 2010 to broaden the knowledge of and gain more active support in curbing illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife products from air and sea port authorities, airline and shipping companies, courier service providers and other entities operating within major air and sea ports. As part of this campaign, 19 orientation-seminars on national and international policies on ivory and wildlife trade were conducted from 2016 to 2018.
Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Units (WTMU) in major (international) air and sea ports in the country monitor the compliance of individuals/entities to both national and international rules and regulations on wildlife transport and trade. Presently, nine (9) airports and twelve (12) seaports are manned by the DENR-WTMUs.
From 2010 to date, 230 law enforcement operations were conducted, resulting in confiscations of more than 36,000 wildlife specimens and prosecution of 114 criminal cases against 343 law violators. To date, 24 cases have been resolved in Court.
Positive action has been received from the Philippine Bureau of Posts and courier JRS, requiring all their offices/branches and agents to ensure strict inspection of parcels/cargoes and deny shipment of any wildlife specimens that are not accompanied by any permit from the DENR.
This Page was updated on 17 December 2019 and will be updated on 10 December 2020
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