The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) trooped to Congress on November 21, 2012 to lobby for the amendment of the Animal Welfare Act in the Lower House level.

PAWS believes that the updating of the 14-year old anti-cruelty law has long been overdue as current penalties on violators are fines between P1,000 to P5,000 or an imprisonment of six months to two years, or both fine and imprisonment.

PAWS proposes to increase fines to at least P100,000 and a prison term of prision mayor ( six years minimum) depending on the gravity of the violation.

The organization is also asking for the increased representation of animal welfare NGOs in the Committee on Animal Welfare which draws up the rules and regulations of the implementation of the Act.

PAWS is also proposing the creation of animal welfare desks in police stations, the inclusion of animals in disaster-preparedness, relief and evacuation plans and the banning of a convicted animal offender from owning a pet.

In her opening speech, Congresswoman and primary author of House Bill 5849 Bernadette Herrera-Dy of the Bagong Henerasyon Party List said, “Animal cruelty is a stain on our national character as Filipinos especially in times of growing global awareness about animal welfare. Unchecked animal cruelty begets more animal cruelty which is why we need to be more forceful in dealing with animal offenders.”

PAWS executive director Anna Cabrera and PAWS legal counsel and director, lawyer Roy Kayaban were resource speakers for the Committee Hearing. Cabrera cited the connection between animal cruelty and the prevention of human violence, while Kayaban mentioned the salient points of PAWS’ proposed amendments.

PAWS celebrity spokesperson, Carla Abellana, was also present and was allowed to address the Committee. The actress appealed to lawmakers to help PAWS get stronger legislation passed in order to punish those who are cruel to animals.

But the most convincing campaigner during the hearing was actually a four-legged one.

Wacku, a dog whose upper snout was hacked off by a bolo-wielding man in Northern Samar, was presented by PAWS volunteers during the hearing.

“Wacku is appealing to everyone to help stop animal cruelty and hopes that the amendment of the Animal Welfare Act will be passed so that animals like him will not suffer needlessly at the hands of violent and cruel people,” Cabrera said. “What we do to animals, we do to ourselves. We are connected to them.”