By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 18, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a measure promoting and protecting the welfare of all animals in the Philippines by increasing the penalties for violations of animal welfare offenses to deter individuals from breaking the law.

There is still a very slim chance the bill could be enacted into law when Congress resumes session in June, animal rights advocates said.

House Bill 6893 penalizes violators with a maximum imprisonment of two years and/or a fine not exceeding P100,000, if the animal subjected to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect dies.

If an animal subjected to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect survives but is severely injured with loss of its natural faculty to live on its own and needing human intervention to sustain its life, violators will be penalized with one year and six months imprisonment and/or fined not exceeding P50,000.

Also, a lesser fine of P30,000 and six months imprisonment will be meted any violators who subject any animal to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect but without causing its death or incapacitating it to survive on its own.

The bill amends Republic Act No. 8485 otherwise known as “An Act To Promote Animal Welfare In The Philippines, or The Animal Welfare Act Of 1998,” which provides for a penalty of imprisonment of not less than six months nor more than two years or a fine of not less than P1,000 nor more than P5,000 or both at the discretion of the court.

Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, one of the principal authors of the measure, said cruel acts against animals abound in social networking sites and in cyberspace.

She attributed the perpetrators’ blatant disregard of the law to its measly fines and provision that allows animal offenders to serve their sentences out of jail, on parole.

“It is time that we Filipinos are recognized for our compassion to animals as this evokes the finest elements of our humanity. To be firm and resolute in condemning and punishing acts which show utter disregard for life protects our society from deteriorating into one whose people are less humane towards each other. Animal welfare directly translates to human welfare,” Herrera-Dy said.

The bill aims to give greater representation to the animal welfare movement or organizations in the Committee on Animal Welfare (CAW) with at least two representatives from Luzon, two from Visayas and two from Mindanao.

The CAW is mandated to recommend to the Animal Welfare Division (AWD) from time to time and revise code of practice for practical guidance.

It also seeks to regulate the operation and maintenance of animal facilities or any establishment where animals are kept for whatever reason or purpose.

The bill creates an Animal Welfare Division in the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) under the Department of Agriculture, which will be responsible for overseeing, supervising, regulating and promoting the welfare of animals including all animal facilities and establishment where animals are held, treated, maintained, bred, trained or kept.

The bill also mandates the appointment of regional, provincial and city animal welfare officers and deputized animal welfare enforcement officers to assist the BAI-AWD in its implementation of the animal welfare law.