Heart Evangelista: Stiffer penalties for animal cruelty

MANILA, Philippines – “What we do to animals, we do to ourselves.”

The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), senators and even celebrities stressed this message as they pushed for heavier penalties for animal cruelty. 

In a hearing of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee on Tuesday, September 4, PAWS officials said the penalty for violence against animals should be 6 to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of P100,000 and higher.

The Department of Justice, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and PAWS said that the penalties under the Animal Welfare Act should be made stiffer. Under the law, people hurting animals will only be imprisoned for 6 months to two years and fined for P2,000 to P5,000.

PAWS Executive Director Anna Cabrera cited scientific studies to point out that those who harm animals eventually become cruel to humans as well.

“We believe that animals are more helpless [than humans],” said Cabrera. They cannot fight back. That’s when people who are cruel to animals begin to not appreciate the difference. They gain the confidence to move on and hurt human beings.” 

Cabrera added that heavier penalties for hurting animals is a means by which society defends itself.

Committee chairman Sen Francis Pangilinan is also in favor of stiffer penalties for animal cruelty. 

Parang tatawanan nga lang ng mga salarin itong batas na ito,” Pangilinan told reporters. (It’s like the perpetrators will just laugh at this law.)

Heart, Joey Mead back penalties

Showbiz personalities who are advocates of animal rights also joined the hearing to call for heavier penalties for animal cruelty.

Dog lover and PAWS celebrity spokesperson Heart Evangelista told the committee, “Being kind to animals improves our capability to be kind to human beings.”

“I really do hope that we can do something about this,” she added.

Fashion model and host Joey Mead agreed about the need to protect animals.

“They have feelings. I can see it in their faces. It’s amazing how anyone can hurt them. They don’t have a voice. It’s important for penalties to go higher,” said Mead.

Pangilinan supported the statements of the celebrities and PAWS but said the sanctions will have to depend on how many animals are affected and how serious the offense is.

The senator said he will base the new penalties on recommendations to be submitted by PAWS and the DOJ. – Rappler.com