MANILA, Philippines - Six people are facing possible jail sentences of 2 to 6 years for selling stalactites and stalagmites taken from Canlao Cave in Tuguegarao.
Elements of the National Bureau of Investigation Counter-Intelligence and Environment and Wildlife Protection and Investigation Division arrested Andres Concha, Harry Santiago, Normita Mabagos, and 3 others for selling the cave formations.
Stalactites are speleothems or natural mineral formations found on the ceilings of caves, while stalagmites are formations found on cave floors.
Republic Act 9072 or the National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act prohibits the gathering and selling of speleothems because it takes up to a hundred years for them to be formed.
Dave Segunial, chief of the NBI Counter-Intelligence Division, said his unit received a tip that a group was selling stalactites and stalagmites for up to P200,000 each.
"They are from the province of Cagayan and according to our source, manggagaling material sa Tuguegarao. The transaction was for P300,000 worth," he said.
Segunial said NBI operatives found the stalactites and stalagmites inside a van used by the suspects. The cave formations were wrapped in newspapers, placed in sacks and covered with pillows and stuffed toys.
The suspects said they did not know it was illegal to harvest stalactites and stalagmites. Concha said Mabagos bought the cave formations for P10,000 each.