TORTOISE SMUGGLING. Bureau of Customs - NAIA District Collector Carmelita Talusan (center) presents to the media the 1,500 baby tortoises, worth PHP4.5 million, seized at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sunday (March 3, 2019). The tortoises, each wrapped in duct tape, were stuffed inside four boxes reportedly left behind by a passenger from Hong Kong. The Philippines is stepping up its campaign against illegal wildlife trade. (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA -- Authorities on Sunday intercepted more than 1,000 turtles left inside four bags at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

According to NAIA-Customs Port Collector Carmelita Talusan, some of the turtles had a duct tape while the others did not.

This is the reason, she said, why X-ray screeners noticed moving objects inside the luggage.

"Probably the passenger got scared because the luggage were marked. There were four suitcases unclaimed by the passenger, and these were just left at the arrival area," she said.

Talusan said Customs is now investigating the incident.

There were different species of the turtles found, she said, and are estimated to be worth PHP4 million.

Talusan said authorities will turn over the turtles to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (PNA)