Bicol rallies lawmen into intensified Animal Welfare Act enforcement

PILI, Camarines Sur, June 14 (PNA) — The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is rallying lawmen in the region into an intensified campaign for the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.

Even on their way to the slaughterhouse, the rights of animals, particularly livestock, should be respected as provided under Republic Act No. 8485, otherwise known as the Animal Welfare Act of 1998, DA Regional Executive director Abelardo Bragas on Saturday told the PNA.

“These animals should be handled properly as poor management and operational technique in the transport of cattle and certain other livestock from the pens or farms to the market or slaughterhouses lead to stress, unnecessary suffering and injury on them,” he stressed.These concerns, he said, were raised during the seminar on Improved Animal Welfare in the Transport of Farm Animals for Slaughter that the DA, through its Regional Regulatory Division, recently conducted in Legazpi City in partnership with the Bureau of Animal Industry.

The seminar, which ran for two days, was attended by animal welfare enforcement officers (AWEOs) from the Philippine National Police (PNP) regional office and PNP-Highway Patrol Group (HPG) — both based in the same city, representatives from the Department of Interior and Local Government and local government units (LGUs), according to Bragas.

Section 10 of RA 10631 amending RA 8485 states that the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other law enforcement agencies shall designate AWEOs while the DA Secretary shall deputize AWEOs from non-government organizations (NGOs), citizens groups, community organizations and other volunteers who have undergone the necessary training for the purpose.

As such, Bragas said, AWEOs are authorized to seize and rescue illegally traded and maltreated animals and to arrest violators of the Act, subject to the guidelines of existing laws and rules and regulations on arrest and detention.

“So far, we were able to draw a commitment of support to the heightened enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act in Bicol from the 80 AWEOs distributed among various field units of the PNP and HPG regionwide who attended the seminar,” he said.

The DA regional chief also announced that his office is recruiting volunteers from NGOs and civic organizations who are willing to undergo training and be deputized as AWEOs.

Also present in the seminar were veterinarians employed by the six provincial and seven city governments in Bicol, quarantine officers, staff of DA Research Outreach Stations, ranchers and livestock shippers who were lectured on several topics involving the animal industry.

Among these topics, according to Bragas, were the Concept of Animal Welfare in the Philippine Context; Cattle Behavior and Sensory Modalities in Context of Animal Handling at Slaughterhouses; Cattle Handling; and Loading and Land Transport of cattle in Context of the World Organization for Animal Health standards.

Other topics discussed were Cattle at the Arrival to Slaughterhouse/Unloading Anti-mortem Inspection; Restraint of Cattle Prior to Stunning and Bleeding; Restraint of Cattle without Stunning; Recent Development in Slaughter Without Stunning; and Animal Welfare and Meat Quality, he added.(PNA)