By: Lira Fernandez, InterAksyon.com
November 27, 2014 3:56 PM
MANILA, Philippines — Farmer Silvestre Ravago showed how he would go to great lengths to obtain justice for his family’s pet dog brutally killed by a neighbor.
With just enough money and some packed food, Ravago, 65, boarded the bus from his hometown in Oas in Albay province and traveled for 10 hours to Quezon City to seek help from the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
“Ella is like one of my children. She sleeps with us,” Ravago described his seven-year-old animal companion.
“I cannot just let what happened to her pass. Her killer should be punished,” he said in Filipino.
The incident took place on the night of November 6, when a drunk neighbor approached and hacked Ella who was guarding near the door.
Ravago, who was out of the house at the time, said his son saw the incident and tried to accost the intruder, but the latter aimed the weapon at him.
The village watchmen (barangay tanods) tried to rescue the dog, but it died due to the wounds it sustained.
They also helped Ravago document the incident.
When Ravago went to the town’s police station to file a complaint, he was told to go to PAWS in Quezon City to file the case “because animals were not under their jurisdiction.”
Saving enough funds to travel to Quezon City, Ravago went to the PAWS office on November 25 and sought help.
He came prepared, bringing with him a barangay certification, an incident report, the photo of his dead dog and identification cards.
Anna Cabrera, PAWS Executive Director, was at the office to assist Ravago.
Her group helped draft the affidavits for Ravago and wrote a letter to the police chief of Oas “so that they will be better informed next time someone approaches them about animal crimes.”
“Mang Besti (Ravago) says his youngest daughter still cannot stop crying when they talk about what happened to Ella,” Cabrera said.
“‘It’s difficult for me to look at that picture of Ella. We let her inside the house each night to sleep with us,'” she quoted Ravago as saying.
Cabrera lamented that many people, including law enforcers, are still unaware of the Animal Welfare Act. And even if they have heard of the law, some do not know what to do, including police officers.
She said that, for the past few months this year, there has been an increasing number of citizens directly approaching PAWS for help in filing animal cruelty cases.
Cabrera said that the government agency tasked to implement the Animal Welfare Act is the Animal Welfare Division under the Bureau of Animal Industry, but, most of the time, this agency refers people in need of help to PAWS and other non-government organizations.
“While we were glad to assist Mr. Ravago, citizens must be able to file cases of animal cruelty wherever they are, as the Animal Welfare Act is a national law,” she said.
Cabrera also stressed that Republic Act 10631 or the Animal Welfare Act (which amended RA 8485) now has more teeth in going after people involved in animal cruelty cases.
The amended law includes stiffer penalties for convicted animal offenders, criminalization of animal abandonment resulting in death or suffering of animals, and deputization of animal welfare enforcement officers from among non-government organizations, citizens groups, community organization and other volunteers.
The newly-signed law increased the maximum fine of P5,000 and prison term of two years to a maximum penalty of P250,000 and/or maximum imprisonment of up to three years if the offense is committed by any of the following: syndicate, an offender who makes business out of cruelty to an animal, a public officer or employee, or where at least three animals are involved.