More on the Dog Meat Trade in the Phillipines -- More Signatures Needed!
The following comes from a recent email from Its Their Destiny, a group fighting Asian dog abuse. The article itself came from Manila Standard Today on 26th February. You may not be able to do much to help Fillipino dogs, but you can do one thing that costs you nothing other than a few seconds. You can sign the petition!
As many of you may know, the person who started the petition is a Dogster (she's Luc's furmom) and has worked with other Dogsters to make life a little better and safer for canines in the Phillipines. Add your voice and your signature!
BAGUIO CITYTeam Unitys candidates may be united as far as political and economic issues are concerned, but for some of them, there are things that they literally cannot stomach. Like dog meat.
In front of Baguios residents who, according to animal rights advocate Network for Animals consume about 200 dogs daily, the administrations Senate bets issued differing positions on the controversial issue, which will be discussed when Congress resumes sessions in June.
Former Senator Tessie Aquino Oreta said she could not imagine why anyone would want to eat dogs, which are known to be mans best friend.
I have pet Labrador, Fidel, and I know I will be very sad if something happens to him. Dogs are friends, not food for the table. I wish everybody would be kind to dogs, even those whose culture makes it acceptable to eat dogs. Anyway, culture can be changed over time," Oreta said.
Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Singson, despite his tough-guy image, also admitted that he had a soft spot for dogs even if he preferred Bengal tigers for pets.
We should teach [dog-eaters] to stop this practice because this is very humiliating. I know its part of their tradition, but these people can be educated so they will learn to support animal rights," Singson said.
But former Senator Edgardo Angara, Zambales Gov. Vicente Magsaysay, and Bukidnon Rep. Juan Miguel said they were satisfied with an existing law, the Philippines Animal Welfare Act of 1998, which prohibits the torture of all animals. Angara said the practice of eating dogs should be allowed during cultural events," while Zubiri, who has positioned himself as the champion of the environment, said traditions must be respected even if he maintained that people should be humane to animals in general.
But Magsaysay, a confessed dog-eater, said lawmakers should take a calibrated response" to the problem so as not to discriminate against traditional dog-eaters in Baguio, Benguet, Ilocos and Cagayan. Im Kapampangan, so I have tried eating everything from dogs to goats. Stricter laws should be implemented, but [we should] talk to the people here first. For them, its medicine and the warm meat is a perfect partner to Baguios cold temperature," he said, adding that changes could not be expected to happen overnight since this was a centuries-old tradition.
Re-electionist Joker Arroyo refused to take a stand on the issue, saying: I do not know anything about the dog meat trade."
But the candidate with the safest position over the issue, which Oreta said was crucial in getting the votes of the Cordillerans and other people who eat dogs, was Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram.
Kiram said that as a Muslim, he was bound by religion not to eat dog meat, which is not considered halal or clean under the Islamic tradition. But he said that if a new law was passed on the matter, he would support its implementation.
While the Animal Welfare Act has helped to partly arrest the problem of indiscriminate dog-eating, animal rights groups claim that the law has failed to prohibit commercial dog meat trading and only provides lenient penalties. Under the law, arrested dog-meat traders may plead guilty and pay a maximum fine of only P5,000.
Network for Animals representative Melchor Alipio said the fine was too small compared to the estimated P55 million in revenues that dog traders earn each year.
Even Malacaang has distanced itself from the sticky issue of ending the dog-meat trading. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo acknowledged that the people from Baguio eat dogs to keep them warm."
But candidates who win in the May 14 mid-term polls will have no choice but to brush up on the issue, which is discussed in House Bill 2991 sponsored by Rep. Ma. Rhodora Maiolo and introduced by Rep. Francis Escudero, and which has the support of animal-rights groups.
Because this barbaric industry provides a steady flow of income not only to the traders but to officials and police officers, the dog meat trade remains untouched by the Welfare Act. Traders remain elusive because the penalty is unrealistic, so with this bill the penalty will be upgraded," Maiolo said in a statement on www.thepetitionsite.com, where 50,000 signatures are being gathered for the cause in time for the June opening of Congress.
It remains to be seen just what will become of House Bill 2991, but it is certain that it will face opposition in a country whose President was quoted as saying "Dog meat keeps you warm, does it not?" There is also constant pressure to have the Animal Welfare Act replaced by legislation more friendly to dog-eaters who, like Magsaysay above, openly brag (with apparent impunity) about breaking the law.