More bite for animal rights law

Kathy Moran

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Cruelty to animals to get stiffer penalties

THEY TOO HAVE RIGHTS. Animal care makes better human beings

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has passed for the third and final reading the amendments to the Animal Welfare Act. And the House of Representatives has adopted and concurred with the Senate version.

The proposed law, introduced by Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Gregorio Honasan, Manuel Villar Jr. and Francis Pangilinan, is ready for President Aquino’s signature.

PAWS knows just how badly the increase in penalties is needed – having come face-to-face with animal offenders who’ve paid a measly P2,000 in fines after having been convicted of animal cruelty.

Here are the highlights of the amended Animal Welfare Act:

Penalty Crime
Imprisonment of six months to one year and/or a fine of not more than P30,000 For subjecting an animal to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect but without causing its death or incapacitating it.
Imprisonment of one year and one day to one year and six months and/or a fine not exceeding P50,000 If the animal subjected to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect survives but is severely injured with loss of its natural faculty to survive on its own and needing human intervention to sustain its life
Imprisonment of one year and one day to two years and/or a fine not exceeding P100,000 If the animal that is subjected to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect dies.
Two years and one day to three years and / or a fine not exceeding P250,000 If the offense is committed by any of the following: (1) a syndicate, (2) an offender who makes business out of cruelty to an animal, (3) a public officer or employee or (4) where at least three (3) animals are involved

If signed into law, the Animal Welfare Act also allows NGOs to deputize animal welfare officers to rescue illegally traded and maltreated animals and arrest violators. It shall further be unlawful for any person to abandon an animal.

The passage of the amendments to the Animal Welfare Act is welcome news to those of us who have seen, heard and witnessed how cruel some people can be when treating stray animals.

It was fitting, in hindsight, that PAWS campaigned for “pet-friendly” candidates in the last election.

Here are some of the legislators who supported the amendments to the Animal Welfare Act: 

Party List Rep. Bernadette Herrera of Bagong Henerasyon – an author and leading advocate of the amendments at the committee level.

Rep. Neptali Gonzales II of Mandaluyong – supported the Second Reading in the Lower House.

Party List Rep. Raymond Palatino of Kabataan – she filed House Resolution 2759 directing the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to prohibit field trips to marine parks. Palatino cited studies showing that keeping dolphins and whales in captivity also shortens the lifespan of these animals. Last year, it was reported that a bottlenose dolphin and four false killer whales died at Ocean Adventure Park in Subic.

Senators Francis Escudero and Honasan – the two have made their stand that the old law must be updated to include heavier penalties for animal offenders.

There are many issues regarding animal cruelty in which people have taken opposing views. But for animal lovers, who know that animal care makes better human beings, there is only one view – no to animal cruelty.

PAWS executive director Anna Cabrera also noted the conditions in the city pounds.

“The root of the problem is mayors who refuse to appoint city veterinarians and set aside a budget [for proper] facilities,“ she said. “Stray dogs that are caught must be given food and water – every day, even during holidays. If they see this issue as a trivial one, then it goes to the very core of these candidates, it shows whether they are deserving to be put in office by people who care for animals.”

This writer has rescued kittens and cats in her small way to give them a better life. It is hoped that, with a better law and stiffer penalties for people who commit animal cruelty, the world will be a kinder place for animals. –

Child playing with kitten photo by Oksana Kuzmina from Shutterstock

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