Animal Law in the Philippines

October 1, 2020Lu Shegay

Animal Welfare Act

The protection of animals in the Philippines is regulated by the originally passed Republic Act No. 8485, otherwise known as the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) in 1998. In 2012, the Republic Act No. 10631 was passed to amend certain sections of the original legislation. The purpose of the AWA of the Philippines is to “protect and promote the welfare of all terrestrial, aquatic and marine animals in the Philippines by supervising and regulating the establishment and operations of all facilities utilized for breeding, maintaining, keeping, treating or training of all animals either as objects of trade or as household pets,” whereas the Act recognizes birds as pet animals. Section 6 of the AWA prohibits torture of any animal, neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance, maltreatment of any animal, subjecting any dog or horse to fights, as well as killing or causing or procuring to be tortured or deprived of adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreatment or using the same in research or experiments not authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare.

Newly introduced Section

The amended Act also included the section regarding the abandonment of an animal. The newly introduced section of the AWA of the Philippines prohibits any person who has custody over an animal to abandon them without reasonable cause or excuse, be it permanently or not, without providing the care of that animal. It also states that if the animal is left in circumstances that are likely to cause unnecessary suffering or death, the supposed owner “shall suffer the maximum penalty.” The Section also provides the definition of an abandonment, which is “the relinquishment of all right, title, claim, or possession of the animal with the intention of not reclaiming it or resuming its ownership or possession.”

Penalties

Cruelty, maltreatment, or neglect of any animal is punished by imprisonment and/or fine depending on the gravity of the crime. The graduate scale of punishment provides the following penalties:

  1. Imprisonment of 1 year and 6 months and 1 day to 2 years and/or a fine not exceeding 100 000 Philippine pesos (approximately 2065 USD) if the animal subjected to cruelty, maltreatment, or neglect dies;

  2. Imprisonment of 1 year and 1 day to 1 year and 6 months and/or a fine not exceeding 50 000 Philippine pesos (approximately 1032 USD) 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

  3. Imprisonment of 6 months to 1 year and/or a fine not exceeding 30 000 Philippine pesos (approximately 619 USD) for subjecting any animal to cruelty, maltreatment, or neglect but without causing its death or incapacitating it to survive on its own.

Section 9 of the relevant Act also provides that if the violation is committed by an entity, the officer shall be punished by imprisonment, and if the violation is committed by an alien, they shall be immediately deported after the service of the sentence without any further proceeding.

Regardless of the cause to an animal, if the crime is committed by a syndicate, an offender who makes a business out of cruelty to animals, a public officer or employee, or where at least 3 animals are involved, are punished by 2 years and 1 day to 3 years and/or a fine not exceeding 250 000 Philippine pesos (approximately 5165 USD).

Administrative orders

Besides the above mentioned Acts, the Philippines also has AWA Administrative orders. For instance, Administrative Order No. 2 enshrines five freedoms for animals, which are freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition; freedom from physical discomfort and pain; freedom from injury and disease; freedom to conform to essential behavioral patterns; and freedom from fear and distress. Order No. 2 covers the requirements before transport, loading and unloading animals by sea.

Administrative Order No. 7 regulates the practice of poultry dressing, i.e., requirements for poultry dressing plants, unloading and shackling of birds, and stunning and slitting.

The registration of animal control facility, aviary, cattery, circus/carnival animal show, corral, crocodile farms, hog farms, kennel, laboratory animal facility, monkey farms, pet shops, poultry farms, racetrack and equestrian establishment, slaughterhouses, stock farms, stockyard, stud farms, veterinary clinics, veterinary hospitals, as well as wildlife rescue centers and zoos are regulated by the Administrative Order No. 8, which presents the provisions on the registration, standard and requirement for registration, renewal of registration, and administrative sanctions.

See more orders here.

Anti-Rabies Act

Another instrument that regulates animal welfare in the Philippines is the Republic Act No. 9482, otherwise called the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007, which provides control and elimination of human and animal rabies and is aimed at protecting and promoting the right to health of people. The Act requires all pet owners to have their dog regularly vaccinated against rabies, submit their dogs for mandatory registration, maintain control over their dog and allow it to roam the streets, provide their dog with proper grooming, adequate food, and clean shelter, report immediately any dog biting incident, assist the victim of the dog bite in medical and other incidental expenses related to the injury. Unregistered, stray, or unvaccinated dogs shall be seized and kept in the dog pound designated by the local government unit. After three days in the dog pound, seized dogs shall be placed for adoption with the assistance of animal welfare organizations. The Act also covers penalties for the violation of any provisions (See Section 11).

Wildlife

Wild animals in the Philippines are protected by the Republic Act No. 9147, which is aimed at the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and their habitats, appropriating funds therefor, and for other purposes. The Act protects threatened species and prohibits the possession of wildlife and the introduction of exotic wildlife. Killing and destroying wildlife is considered an illegal act, except when it is done as part of the religious rituals, when wildlife species have incurable diseases, when it is deemed necessary when it is done to prevent imminent danger, and when it is authorized to do so for research or experiments. Chapter V provides penalties for the violation of any provision of the Act.

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