Poe urges passage of revised Animal Welfare Act

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ANIMAL WELFARE. Senator Grace Poe takes up the cudgels for abused, abandoned and neglected animals in a privilege speech at the Senate on Tuesday (March 19, 2024). Poe called for the passage of the Revised Animal Welfare Act to improve the state of animal welfare in the country. (Photo courtesy of Senate PRIB)
MANILA – Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday renewed her call for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) No. 2458, which seeks to improve animal welfare in the country, following the brutal killing of a golden retriever named "Killua" in Bato, Camarines Sur which was widely condemned by netizens.
In a statement, Poe said she was "heart-broken and enraged" after hearing of Killua's killing, and reminded the public that the Animal Welfare Act of 1998, amended by Republic Act 10631, prohibits torture and maltreatment of any animal, neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance of shelter, or to subject any dog or horse to fights, or use animals in research or experiments not expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare.
"If we are to create a kinder society where animals and humans can co-exist in harmony, we must raise awareness on the proper, responsible, and humane manner of treating animals," she said, noting the other numerous reports of animal cruelty, neglect and abandonment.
SB 2458, or "The Revised Animal Welfare Act," seeks to include mandatory animal welfare education in the curriculum for primary and secondary education and improve the capacity of the Department of Agriculture in addressing animal welfare issues through a proper bureau.
"This bill shall firmly establish standards geared towards engendering responsible pet ownership, as well as ethical behavior and accountability from all those who have control over or provide care to animals. As such, the bill has more stringent penalties for violations of the Act," Poe said.
SB 2458 shall also create a Barangay Animal Welfare Task Force which will enable local officials to address the animal welfare issues with dispatch.
"It is envisioned that they shall work hand in hand with the corps of animal welfare enforcement officers from non-government organizations, citizens' groups, community organizations, and other volunteers who have undergone the necessary training and have been deputized by the Department of Agriculture Secretary as well as animal welfare enforcement officers from law enforcement agencies," Poe said.
The bill is currently pending in the Senate Committee on Agriculture.
Meanwhile, Senator JV Ejercito joined netizens in condemning the brutal killing of Killua, saying it clearly violates the law and goes against the principles of compassion and decency.
"Our beloved companions, often considered man's best friend, should never be subjected to such cruelty," Ejercito said in a separate statement.
Expressing his support for the passage of Poe's measure, Ejercito said strengthening laws to protect the welfare of animals is paramount to prevent senseless acts of violence, like what happened to Killua.
"I implore the public to show greater empathy towards animals. They possess the purest hearts and deserve our love and compassion. Let us strive to create a world where animals are treated with the care, and respect they rightfully deserve," the lawmaker said.
House members support measure
Lawmakers at the House of Representatives also expressed support for the passage of Poe's bill.
"I do share the sentiments of Senator Grace Poe, my heart bleeds when I heard about the news. It's sad and unfortunate and it is indeed a wake-up call for us legislators to revisit the law and to find out if it would require stiffer penalties and when it comes to enforcement," Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. David Suarez said during the daily press briefing at the House of Representatives.
"I will support any investigation and legislation to promote animal welfare in the country," he said.
Davao Oriental Rep. Cheeno Almario said the killer of Killua should not have resorted to such a fatal act.
"To me, it is tantamount to straight up murder. I cannot speak on behalf of Congress if there is a bill already to increase (penalties), but if ever there is, then we will support it definitely," he said.
House Assistant Majority Leader Raul Angelo Bongalon of Ako Bicol Partylist said "now is the best time" to revisit the Animal Welfare Act of 1998.
"I think it would be the best time for us to revisit this Animal Welfare Act. And as mentioned, the maximum penalty of imprisonment for the violation, for instance, in the killing of an animal, is six months to one year of imprisonment, with the penalty or a fine of not exceeding P100,000," Bongalon said.
"I would like to address also another issue, I guess the lack of awareness of the people that there is a law that protects animal welfare. So, I guess that should also be addressed by the local government units, by barangays and other the [non-government organizations]," he added.
Bongalon also urged the Philippine Animal Welfare Society to look into the matter of raising the awareness of people of the law and the penalties that will be imposed if a person hurts or kills an animal. (PNA)

Last Modified: 2024-Mar-21 11.00.00 UTC+0800