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JUNE 21, 2013…THIS WAS A SIGNIFICANT DAY, NOT ONLY FOR THE PHILIPPINES, BUT ALSO FOR THE WORLD’S BIODIVERSITY. IT WAS WHEN THE PHILIPPINES MADE A HISTORICAL BREAKTHROUGH WITH ITS EFFORT AGAINST ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE, PARTICULARLY IN THE ILLEGAL ELEPHANT IVORY TRADE. ON JUNE 21, 2013, WE DESTROYED MORE THAN FOUR TONS OF PRICELESS YET ILLEGAL ELEPHANT IVORY. THIS MADE US THE FIRST NON-ELEPHANT RANGE COUNTRY AND THE PIONEER IN ASIA TO TAKE SUCH A BOLD STEP. IT WAS NOT EASY BUT WE STOOD UP BECAUSE WE KNEW IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. AND YES, WE WERE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. WE WERE ABLE TO CONVEY OUR STRONG MESSAGE TO THE WORLD THAT THE PHILIPPINES CONDEMNS THE KILLING OF ELEPHANTS FOR IVORY HARVEST AND WE DO NOT TOLERATE THE ILLEGAL TRADE OF ELEPHANT IVORY, NOR ANY OTHER TYPE OF ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE.

AS OF TODAY, TWELVE COUNTRIES/STATES HAVE FOLLOWED OUR BOLD STEP. THESE ARE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, CHINA, FRANCE, CHAD, BELGIUM, HONG KONG, KENYA, ETHIOPIA, MOZAMBIQUE, CONGO, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, AND THAILAND.
VERY RECENTLY, ON JANUARY 19, 2016 TO BE EXACT, THE PHILIPPINES EARNED A COMMENDATION FROM THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA (or CITES) FOR IMPLEMENTING SUBSTANTIAL MEASURES TO ARREST ILLEGAL IVORY TRADE.

TODAY, WE ARE GOING FURTHER IN SOLIDIFYING OUR COMMITMENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY WITH THE UNVEILING OF THE ELEPHANT MONUMENTAL SCULPTURE. AS WE UNVEIL A SYMBOLIC STRUCTURE CREATED FROM THE ASH REMAINS OF THE ELEPHANT IVORY DESTROYED LAST JUNE OF 2013, LET US BE REMINDED OF THE THOUSANDS OF ELEPHANTS KILLED FOR THEIR PRECIOUS TUSKS. MAY THIS STRUCTURE INSPIRE AND DRIVE US TO MOVE FURTHER AND WORK HARDER TO FULFILL OUR COMMON GOAL: TO FIGHT ILLEGAL IVORY AND WILDLIFE TRADE.

WITH UTMOST HOPE, MAY THIS STRUCTURE, AS WELL AS OUR EFFORT TODAY, BE A CONSTANT REMINDER TO US THAT AKIN TO A MOTHER AFRICAN ELEPHANT PROTECTING HER CALF, WE, AS THE EARTH’S CARETAKERS, SHOULD SAFEGUARD OUR ABSOLUTE GEM – OUR BIODIVERSITY. MAY WE ALSO CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR OUR ADVOCACY AND COMMITMENT AGAINST ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE.

THANK YOU AND HAVE A GOOD DAY.