Guilty plea speeds up trial, hands legal victory to animal welfare advocates

By: Dexter Cabalza – Reporter 
Reposted from:

A Pasay City court has sentenced four teenagers to six months and one day in jail for clubbing a stray cat to death last year, an offense that was caught on video and caused an uproar among animal welfare advocates.

Judge Joeven Dellosa of Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 47 found John Vincent Tenoria, Avelino Vito Jr., Wesley C. Torres and Jomar Estrada, “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” for violating Section 6 of the Animal Welfare Act (Republic Act 8485, as amended by RA 10631).​The decision was handed down earlier this month, just weeks after the four were arraigned on April 30. After they pleaded guilty under a plea bargaining agreement, the judge reduced their sentence to six months and a day.

Application for probation
Under RA 8485, the penalty for the act cited in the case is imprisonment of at least one year and six months to a maximum of two years, and/or a P100,000 fine.

Anna Cabrera, executive director of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) said the four convicted teens had yet to start serving their sentence at Pasay City Jail after the judge granted them temporary liberty as they await the approval of their application for probation.

The four posted bail of P4,000 each in February.
Around 2 a.m. on Sept. 5, 2017, Tenoria and his friends were caught on a closed-circuit television camera killing a cat resting just a few meters away from them on Interior Dolores Street at Barangay 66, Zone 8, in Pasay.

Caught on camera
A two-minute video which went viral on social media showed Tenoria hitting the cat on the head with a thick piece of wood handed to him by his friends.

Days after the incident, PAWS filed charges against Tenoria and his three companions, saying they were all “equally guilty” since they “conspired with each other to strike the cat which eventually caused the animal’s death.”

Warning: Disturbing video (footage from Pasay City Barangay 66 CCTV camera presented as evidence in court) 

Report animal cruelty
Scoring a legal victory, Cabrera urged the public “to take the initiative to report animal offenders to authorities… They always post on Facebook. Although this is not wrong, this should not be the immediate reaction.”
“Animal violation is a crime,” she said in an interview. “Like any other crime… if you see someone being robbed, you call the police.”

​She cited a study showing that animal rights violators are also prone to be committing violence or crimes against human beings. “If we remain quiet, we are not helping our communities [become] safe,” Cabrera said. —WITH A REPORT FROM ROSELIE MARI VILLAFLOR