President Benigno Aquino III has signed into law a measure increasing the penalties for acts of cruelty against animals.

During a press conference Tuesday, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino signed last October 3 Republic Act 10631 or the act amending certain sections of Republic Act 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act of 1998.

“Notable among the amendments of 10631 would be the increase in penalties, as well as offenses counted under this act,” she said.

Under RA 10631, the abandonment of an animal in a person’s custody shall now be considered an offense.

This, along with other acts of cruelty, neglect, and maltreatment, shall be punishable by:

  • “Imprisonment of one (1) year and six (6) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and/or a fine not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) if the animal subjected to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect dies;
  • Imprisonment of one (1) year and one (1) day to one (1) year and six (6) months and/or a fine not exceeding Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) if the animal subjected to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect survives but is severely injured with loss of its natural faculty to survive on its own and needing human intervention to sustain its life; and
  • Imprisonment of six (6) months to one (1) year and/or a fine not exceeding Thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) for subjecting any animal to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect but without causing its death or incapacitating it to survive on its own.”

Under the old law, violators are only punished by imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than two years or a fine of not less than P1,000 but not more than P5,000 or both.

Also under the new law, the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture shall deputize animal welfare enforcement officers from nongovernment organizations, citizens groups, community organizations and other volunteers who have undergone the necessary training. 

In the same manner, the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies shall also designate animal welfare enforcement officers. 

“As such, animal welfare enforcement officers shall have the authority to seize and rescue illegally traded and maltreated animals and to arrest violators of this Act subject to the guidelines of existing laws and rules and regulations on arrest and detention,” says RA 10631. —KG, GMA News