By Wilnard Bacelonia

ANIMAL WELFARE. Senator Grace Poe takes up the cudgels for abused, abandoned and neglected animals in a privilege speech at the Senate on Tuesday (March 19, 2024). Poe called for the passage of the Revised Animal Welfare Act to improve the state of animal welfare in the country. (Photo courtesy of Senate PRIB)

MANILA – Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday renewed her call for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) No. 2458, which seeks to improve animal welfare in the country, following the brutal killing of a golden retriever named “Killua” in Bato, Camarines Sur which was widely condemned by netizens.

In a statement, Poe said she was “heart-broken and enraged” after hearing of Killua’s killing, and reminded the public that the Animal Welfare Act of 1998, amended by Republic Act 10631, prohibits torture and maltreatment of any animal, neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance of shelter, or to subject any dog or horse to fights, or use animals in research or experiments not expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare.

“If we are to create a kinder society where animals and humans can co-exist in harmony, we must raise awareness on the proper, responsible, and humane manner of treating animals,” she said, noting the other numerous reports of animal cruelty, neglect and abandonment.

SB 2458, or “The Revised Animal Welfare Act,” seeks to include mandatory animal welfare education in the curriculum for primary and secondary education and improve the capacity of the Department of Agriculture in addressing animal welfare issues through a proper bureau.

“This bill shall firmly establish standards geared towards engendering responsible pet ownership, as well as ethical behavior and accountability from all those who have control over or provide care to animals. As such, the bill has more stringent penalties for violations of the Act,” Poe said.

SB 2458 shall also create a Barangay Animal Welfare Task Force which will enable local officials to address the animal welfare issues with dispatch.

“It is envisioned that they shall work hand in hand with the corps of animal welfare enforcement officers from non-government organizations, citizens’ groups, community organizations, and other volunteers who have undergone the necessary training and have been deputized by the Department of Agriculture Secretary as well as animal welfare enforcement officers from law enforcement agencies,” Poe said.

The bill is currently pending in the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

Meanwhile, Senator JV Ejercito joined netizens in condemning the brutal killing of Killua, saying it clearly violates the law and goes against the principles of compassion and decency.

“Our beloved companions, often considered man’s best friend, should never be subjected to such cruelty,” Ejercito said in a separate statement.

Expressing his support for the passage of Poe’s measure, Ejercito said strengthening laws to protect the welfare of animals is paramount to prevent senseless acts of violence, like what happened to Killua.

“I implore the public to show greater empathy towards animals. They possess the purest hearts and deserve our love and compassion. Let us strive to create a world where animals are treated with the care, and respect they rightfully deserve,” the lawmaker said. (PNA)