It's been a busy summer for our small team working in the Philippines. While they gear up for their campaigning around the connections between rabies and the dog meat trade at the forthcoming One Health conference, a number of prosecutions against dog meat traders have been achieved in courts in the Philippines.
One long time dog meat trader was convicted under the Rabies Act, receiving a fine of P125,000 (£1900) and a sentence of one to three years imprisonment. Another three were convicted under the Animal Welfare Act and received smaller fines, while a further five were convicted under the same Act and face two years imprisonment in addition to fines of P5000 (£80). Although we are disappointed in the latter cases to see charges under the Rabies Act were not upheld, the increasing number of convictions, fines and sentences for people involved in the dog meat trade shows a demonstrable improvement in the authorities willingness to pursue and prosecute people engaged in this barbaric trade.
In addition to providing intelligence and surveillance which leads to the arrest and prosecution of dog meat traders, our team in Manila seek legal advice as the cases proceed through the courts and remain present during the entire process to ensure the cases are seen to completion. We always seek prosecutions relating to the dog meat trade under the Rabies Act of 2007 because it upgraded the weak penalties in the Animal Welfare Act and acts as a stronger deterrent to traders. The most recent convictions under the Animal Welfare Act will be reviewed by our team and, where possible, we will seek tougher penalties.
For over a decade we have worked in the Philippines building networks and researching the inner workings of the dog meat trade. We have piled heaps of resources into monitoring and intercepting the dog meat traders, improving legislation, developing contacts within local and national government as well as with a network of informants who assist us in our daily work. Robust legislation outlawing the dog meat trade is an essential component of a successful campaign to eradicate the industry, but the law needs to be underpinned by effective enforcement.
We hope that these latest convictions are a sign of a changing tide against the illegal trade in dog meat in the Philippines.