Animals in Agriculture in the Philippines
The Philippines is an island country that is situated in Southeast Asia. The country consists of 7 641 islands, divided into three major island groups, and, apart from aquaculture and fishing being the main industries, the use of animals in agriculture is a common practice as well. Agriculture in the Philippines is composed of four sub-sectors, which are crops, livestock, poultry, and fisheries, and is the main source of livelihood for approximately 25-30% of the labor force.
During the second quarter of 2021, the value of agricultural production at constant 2018 prices decreased by -1.5%. This was related to the decline in livestock and fisheries production. At the same time, production increments were noted for crops and poultry.
Livestock production, which dropped by -19.3%, contributed 14.2% to the total agricultural production. Hog production decreased by -26.2%. Poultry production, which shared 13.5% in the total agricultural production, increase by 2.5% during the second quarter of 2021, from a -4.7% decline in the same period last year. Duck, chicken eggs, and duck eggs posted production increments. At current prices, the value of agricultural production amounted to PhP 503.3 billion in the second quarter of 2021. This was 7.2% higher than the level recorded in the same period of the previous year.
The Philippines is considered an agricultural country with a land area of 30 million ha, 47% of which is dedicated to the development of agriculture. What the country is well-known for in terms of agriculture is crocodile farming, where crocodiles are raised and harvested for commercial purposes, mainly for their meat and skin. The main species are the saltwater crocodile and the freshwater crocodile. Other popular species that are farmed in the Philippines are ostrich, the farming of whom has started not too long ago, in 1996.
The Animal Welfare Act of the Philippines is the main source for the protection of animals in the country. It contains the general anti-cruelty provisions and, in theory, is applied to farmed animals as well. Section 2 of the Act provides that the certificates of registration shall be acquired by a person who is engaged in the commercial use of animals, which also includes stockyards and slaughterhouses. Such certificates are only issued to those businesses that present proof that their facilities will not cause pain and suffering to animals.
There are also regulations that relate to the registration of such facilities as hog farms, poultry farms, slaughterhouses, stock farms, and stockyards. With that being said, Administrative Order No. 8 of 1999 provides the detailed rules on that matter, although this is only applied to those farms where the temperature inside may not be controlled within set limits, i.e, that would not apply to indoor temperature-controlled farms. These rules, according to the regulations, shall be managed by qualified staff who have the ability to undertake behavior observations for the purposes of making all animals free from pain and suffering. Yet, it is not prohibited in the country to run facilities with strong and extreme confinement, such as battery cages and dry sow stalls.
In 2013, amendments to the Animal Welfare Act have been made that included the interpretation of animal welfare and regulations related to it. This implied providing animals with physical and psychological well-being, including the avoidance of abusive practices, maltreatment, cruelty, and exploitation by humans. The practices of animals shall be maintained with proper standards and the application of the rule on freedom from fear, distress, harassment, unnecessary discomfort, and pain, as well as allowing animals to express their normal and natural behavior.
Administrative Order No. 41 of 2000 provides certain regulations and guidelines with regard to rearing pigs. The Order is focused on the welfare of pigs stating that good animal welfare is a significant part of the economic benefits of the country and the improvement of the quality of life of pigs. The Order uses the concept of Five Freedoms as the basis for regulating pig farming practices. The concept of Five Freedoms is an internationally accepted standard of care. These standards were developed by Britain's Farm Animal Welfare Council in 1965 and include:
Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor.
Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area providing soft bedding and an area with the appropriate temperature, noise levels, and access to natural light. If animals are outside, they must have shelter from the elements and appropriate food and water bowls that will not freeze or tip over.
Freedom from pain, injury, or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment. This includes vaccinating animals, monitoring animals, physical health, treating any injuries, and providing appropriate medications.
Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and the company of the animal's own kind. Animals need to be able to interact with — or avoid — others of their own kind as desired. They must be able to stretch every part of their body (from nose to tail), and run, jump, and play.
Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering. The mental health of an animal is just as important as physical health — as psychological stress can quickly transition into physical illness. These conditions can be achieved by preventing overcrowding and providing sufficient enrichment and safe hiding spaces.
In the Philippines, all pig farms with more than 300 sows shall have a principal veterinarian who has the duty of supervision over the facility. It is prohibited to conduct any acts of cruelty, neglect, inadequate supply of food, water, and shelter, as well as slaughtering, branding, mutilating, confining, or carrying any pig - and any other acts that inflict pain and suffering to the pigs. Customary husbandry practices, such as castration are required to be done with anesthetics, however, tail docking and teeth clipping are allowed under the Order and do not require to be conducted with painkillers. The Order also allows the use of farrowing crates but requires the size of the crate to be large enough so the sow is able to lie down at full length without leg restriction, as well as being able to rise to a standing position in one movement and stand comfortably. Nevertheless, that may not be sufficient for the welfare of pigs - even though the size of the crate shall be large to lie down and rise, the Order does not mention anything about the ability for a sow to turn around, which means pigs may still have insufficient space. The Order also allows confinement in individual stalls or farrowing crates but not more for than 6 weeks and it also provides minimum recommendations for housing and shelter, including farrowing crate for a pig, depending on the animal’s weight.
As for the regulations for chickens, Administrative Order No. 12 provides the minimum standards for these animals, and also applies the concept of Five Freedoms prohibiting certain practices, such as “willfully or wantonly causing unreasonable or unnecessary pain, suffering, or distress to the chickens.” The Order claims that if farms in the Philippines contain more than 40 000 broiler chickens, the facility shall have an attending veterinarian to exercise supervision. Chickens shall have sufficient space in the farms, so they have the ability to lie down. Customary husbandry practices, such as debeaking and spur trimming are not prohibited.
This Order also applies to egg-laying hens. It states that farms having more than 30 000 egg-laying hens shall also have the attending veterinarian. The same general provisions as mentioned above are applied to the egg-laying hens.
The AWA of the Philippines contains the provisions with regard to the transportation of animals in the country. Section 3 of the Act states that the Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry has a duty to supervise the transportation of animals to “provide maximum comfort while in transit and minimize, if not totally eradicate, the incidence of sickness and death and prevent any cruelty from being inflicted upon the animals.”
During the transportation itself, the transportation vehicle owner or operator has the obligation to provide adequate, clean, and sanitary facilities for the purposes of safe transportation, as well as food and water for animals in transit for more than 12 hours or under any other necessary circumstances. (Section 4) It also states that overcrowding of animals and any type of cruelty act are prohibited, even if the transportation carrier has a special permit for conducting the transportation.
There are other regulations that relate to the transportation of animals in the Philippines. Administrative Order No. 19, for instance, governs the live animals’ transportation by road and explicitly states the considerations of the Five Freedoms. The Order contains provisions with regard to acts during travel, protection during hot and cold weather, details on space allowances per animal by species and size, but the Order lacks penalty provisions for the violations of the regulations within this Order.
Live export of farmed animals in the Philippines is not prohibited by law but the law regulates the procedure of the practice. For instance, Administrative Order No. 41 prohibits the transportation of pigs at temperatures above 28 degrees C, and Administrative Order No. 12 provides recommendations and limitations on the transportation of chickens. The Philippines in its Administrative Order No. 2 also provides the regulations with regard to the transportation of animals by sea and air.
The slaughter of animals in the Philippines is also regulated by the national AWA under Section 6. This Section states that the slaughter of animals shall be done using humane procedures all the time. A humane procedure is defined as using the most “scientific methods available as may be determined and approved by the Committee.” Such animals as cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, carabaos, horses, deer, and crocodiles are indicated as those that shall be slaughtered under humane procedures.
Moreover, the slaughter conduct is also covered by Administrative Order No. 21 and addresses the processes of euthanasia for companion animals and slaughtering animals for the purposes of food consumption. Euthanasia, according to the Order, shall be done “rapidly and humanely” and “must occur with the least fear, anxiety, pain, and distress” to animals. Furthermore, the Order provides that “consideration must be given to how the animal is handled immediately prior to and during the procedure.” The Order prohibits the use of sticks, metal pipes, clubs, pointed objects, or gates during moving animals. It also suggests using water sprays on such animals as pigs, cattle, carabao, horses, and goats during hot weather.
The slaughter itself shall be done with stunning, except for cases of religious or ritual practices of slaughter. Religious and ritual types of slaughter are governed by Administrative Order No. 25. This Order defines the animal as “any living being that has feelings and the power of voluntary motion.”
Stunning before slaughtering shall also possess the features of a humane manner, but what the humane manner actually implies in practice remains unclear. Administrative Order No. 18 provides the regulations for the slaughterhouses and similar facilities on space requirements, food, water, barred implements for moving animals, and barred inhumane acts, such as ear and tail twisting.