MANILA — It may have taken more than a decade but justice was served, according to an animal rights group, when a man from Binangonan, Rizal was finally found guilty of maltreating a goat.
Andres Vocal was convicted last February 11 and was ordered to pay P4,000 for violating Republic Act 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act.
“It drives home the point that it’s not just companion animals that are covered under the Animal Welfare Act,” said Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) Executive Director Anna Cabrera in a phone interview.
According to court documents, on October 19, 2008 Vocal was seen punching a goat repeatedly. The old woman who owned the goat, Modesta Leoncio, asked their neighbor to stop but he ignored her and instead started hitting a pregnant goat.
“Because of the violent and cruel acts of the accused to her goats, one was not able to stand up and needed to be slaughtered, while the pregnant goat prematurely gave birth,” read the document.
Leoncio, who is now in her 70s, filed a complaint at their barangay hall but the two parties failed to reach an amicable settlement. Vocal insisted that Leoncio only made up the story because they had an earlier feud.
Leoncio then filed a case at a local court. It was only last year, when the case was raised to the Municipal Trial Court, that she contacted PAWS for help.
“We have to admire the old woman’s tenacity,” Cabrera said. “Despite people telling her that the case will not prosper. Could you imagine 10 years and she was on her own?”
Cabrera said the old woman treated the goats as her pets. Leoncio told them about how it was painful to hear the goats cry in pain, especially since they sounded like crying children.
At one point, Leoncio wrote a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte about what happened.
The municipal trial court eventually ruled in favor of Leoncio because of the testimony of other witnesses.
Cabrera said while the fine was miniscule, they were able to teach Vocal a lesson, especially since he was known to maltreat animals in their community. It was once reported that he force fed a goat with rocks until it died.
“It drove home the point. This man had to attend hearings for a long time. It cost him some effort,” Cabrera said. “He finally realized that animal cruelty is a serious offense.”
The PAWS head also pointed out that it goes to show that animal cruelty cannot be used “against people who love animals.”
“It has consequences and have fines of up to P100,000,” Cabrera said.
The group said they only see one or two convictions a year despite many reports of animal cruelty offline and online.