By Ben Serrano
BUNAWAN, Agusan del Sur––The village chief who was among those who caught “Lolong,” the largest crocodile in captivity so far, “declared” the voracious aquatic reptile as a property of the people of Barangay Nueva Era, Agusan del Sur and the Caraga.
Nueva Era barangay chairperson Teopanes Adlawan said this in the wake of moves to bring the crocodile to Manila.
“We’ll surely strongly oppose plans to transfer ‘Lolong,’” Adlawan said.
Adlawan said catching “Lolong” cost his village two lives and another is still missing.
“It’s the reason why ‘Lolong’ is so attached to the people here in Barangay Nueva Era,” he said.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje earlier said the government was studying the feasibility of transferring the 20.3-foot saltwater crocodile to a 22.7-hectare park in Quezon City.
Mundita Lim, director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, said there would be no legal issue if Paje wished to take custody of “Lolong” because the reptile belongs to the national government.
Bunawan town hall spokesperson Welinda Elorde said municipal officials and Paje talked about “Lolong” and the secretary supposedly said he respected the position of the Bunawan town government.
“As far as we are concerned, the plans to transfer ‘Lolong’ to Manila is a dead issue,” Elorde said.
Bunawan Mayor Edwin Elorde earlier said Barangay Nueva Era villagers helped a lot in the capture of the crocodile.
Meanwhile, Adlawan said local government revenues because of “Lolong” have shot up. He said his barangay was recently given a P100-thousand share by the town government from the gate fees. The fund was used to build a public toilet.