Now that December has arrived, there are more than just the multi-colored lights, the jingle of carolers, the trek to midnight mass, and the selfless gift-giving to look forward to for the people of the Philippines. The pursuit of animal welfare and the prevention of cruelty do not stop even when it's Christmas season. Amidst the holiday spirit, there is serious business that needs to be done.
The Philippine Animal Welfare Society goes back to court on December 13th to pursue a case against 14 people involved in gambling and vicious dogfighting in Antipolo, a city outside Manila. Dogfighting is a violation of the Philippine Animal Welfare Act, and this case will serve as the spearhead for all other legal cases relating to dogfighting in the future. The law is a wonderful piece of legislative engineering, but some criticize it as toothless because of weak enforcement. Well, this case caught the attention of the public and a victory in court will quantumly modify that perception for both violators and animal rights activists.
December 13th will be the second time that PAWS and the defendants will meet at the courthouse in Antipolo. Back in November 9th, the defense scored a minor victory by delaying the arraignment scheduled for that day to Dec. 13th, due to a technicality. Here is Anna Cabrera's ( Director of PAWS ) report on what happened that day:
" At the arraignment, the lawyer of the dogfighters (Danny Tan, et.al) - whose name is Atty. Julian Turcuator - objected to a private prosecutor (PAWS lawyer, Atty. Roy Kayaban) participating in the trial. He says that based on the Rules of Court-since this is a criminal case, there should only be the Public Prosecutor handling this case.
However, PAWS' Atty Kayaban cited jurisprudence that a private prosecutor can be directly under the public prosecutor and still be allowed to participate.
Atty. Turcuator said that they did not receive DOJ's denial of their Motion for Reconsideration (PAWS received a copy of said document last Oct 24, 2007) so they are asking for re-schduling of the arraignment on Dec 13, 1pm. At this point, Asst. Prosecutor Corazon Sampayo said that her office already sent out those notices and does not understand why the Defense did not get their copy. Sampayo said " to give them the benefit of the doubt" she is agreeing to the suggestion of re-scheduling. The Judge approved the re-sked to Dec13.
The Judge asked Atty Turcuator to put in writing his objection to the representation of private prosecutor Atty Kayaban and gave him until Dec 13 to get feedback on all "other legal remedies of the accused" (i.e. Motion for Rconsideration, etc).
... PAWS will be vigilant here because we want dogfighting stopped - starting with Antipolo City - where dogfights are rampant. "
It would be a serious mistake for the defendants to strategize their defense based on delays and the hope that both PAWS and the city of Antipolo would lose heart and interest in the case. Nobody is going anywhere but forward with this case. Incidentally, you can view the Joint Consolidated Reply Affidavit HERE.
Danny Sy, the alleged ring leader, is pictured to the right. There is a lot of video evidence against him and his co-defendants including statements attesting to the hideous condition of the dogs on fight night plus hard copy evidence like gate receipts. Those are pretty damming stuff. What's he going to say? That he was walking along one night, and unknowingly stepped into the stadium and found himself in center ring between fighting dogs? If you believe this stuff, I've got a flying saucer to sell you complete with registration and insurance.