On its last day in session this month the Philippine Congress approved a long-awaited bill to amend the Animal Welfare Act and impose increased penalties for anyone who neglects, abuses or mistreats animals, with a maximum penalty of P250,000 ($5,800) fine and an attached three-year jail term, according to a June 15 report by the Opinion Inquirer.
Under the previous law, the maximum penalty was a P5,000 ($115) fine and two years in jail. The new measure, which has been passionately urged by animal advocates, also imposes harsher penalties for people convicted of dog-meat trading and running a dog-fighting operation.
Importantly, the amendments now add a provision to the original animal-cruelty statute that public officials and employees who mistreat animals will be subject to the highest punishment, along with those whose businesses involve the abuse of animals. This is an affirmation that those in public office are obliged to set the correct example for others to follow, states the Opinion Inquirer.
PHILIPINE POLICE BUST POSSIBLY WORLD’S LARGEST PIT BULL FIGHTING RING IN 2012
In 2012 there was worldwide media coverage regarding a dog-fighting operation that was being conducted simultaneously in several Philippine provinces.
On March 30, 2012 Philippine Police seized over 300 pit bulls in separate raids on two locations—an underground dog-fight arena in Calauan and a dog farm in San Pablo City in Laguna (south of Manila.) The Pit Bulls were housed in individual metal fuel drums and tied with heavy steel chains inside the lot in a former coffee plantation, surrounded by a fence made of corrugated tin. Police also recovered 30 dogs from an arena in the nearby town of Calauan where they were about to be fought.
Rescuers were appalled that some of the Pit Bulls seized had been “saved” in a previous bust in Cavite in December 2011, but were “recycled,” meaning they were adopted or rescued by people who sold them back to the same dogfighters.
A number of Korean nationals were arrested, but the penalties were so minimal that the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Cara Welfare Philippines (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals) and other groups doubted that they were any deterrent to the lucrative dog-fighting enterprise. Read: Philippines Police Bust What Could be World's Largest Pit Bull Fighting Ring
NEW PHILIPINE LAW “ISN’T THREAT TO COCKFIGHTING,” SAYS COCKFIGHTER
Amidst the Philipine legislature's enlightenment in addressing dog fighting and other animal cruelty, it seems shocking that cockfighting is ignored, but this has become a political reality in many countries because of the economic benefits and lobbying power of cockfighting associations.
A post by Rey Bajenting, identified as a male in the Philippines, on RS Sugbo Gamefowl Technology blogsite, “HB 5849 isn't a threat to cockfighting,” makes some startling revelations about the mind of the cockfighter.
The following partial quote presents the cockfighters' viewpoint that this blood sport is not animal cruelty and also provides some insight into the politics:
“Someone called my attention to a house bill filed by Bagong Henerasyon Party List Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy proposing amendment to the Animal Welfare Act (R.A. 8485). The bill, HB 5849, calls for increased penalties for acts of cruelty to animals. I was then asked what I think of the bill. Will it not constitute a threat to cockfighting?
“…But, shooting from the hips and, judging by the summary I was shown, it seemed there was nothing on the bill against cockfighting.
“It proposes increased penalties on acts against animal cruelty. Cockfighting is legal in the Philippines and under existing laws it is not considered act of cruelty to animals, thus, in my opinion we have nothing to worry about the bill per se. I believe, opposing the bill will only tend to show our insecurities that cockfighting, after all, can be considered cruelty to animals that is why we are afraid of severe penalties.
“If you ask me, we might as well support the bill because cruelty to animals is indeed an abominable act. I, like most Filipinos, also hate cruelty to animals. I will not be into cockfighting had I believed it is cruelty. So, why should I be worried of any move that will penalize or increase punishment for any and all forms of cruelty to animals when cockfighting does not belong to this category.
“What we must fear is that, by stupid twist of logic, cockfighting will be classified cruelty to animals and as such will be outlawed like what happened in the US…But, if we will not be careful, this number of ours will dwindle in the years to come if the propaganda of the opponents continue taking its toll because we are not doing anything about it.”