I wrote this article in 2000
A LAW TO PROTECT COCKFIGHTING
An Animal Welfare Act was passed into law under our very noses protecting such animals as dogs, cats, birds and even snakes and reptiles. The law was so cautiously written in the way that despite the very clear mention of dog-fighting and horse-fighting, cockfighting which is so popular was evaded. Why? Because, probably, the anti-cockfighting forces like the Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (HSPCA) and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are convinced that the time is not yet ripe for them to engage the Filpino cockers and our lucrative gamefowl industry head-on.
SECTION 1: It is the purpose of this Act to protect and promote the welfare of all 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 object of trade or as household pets. For purposes of this Act, pet animal shall include birds.
Yes, an Animal Welfare Act has been in placed since more than two years ago. Well and good. However, when we try to nibble in our minds the factors that led to the creation and formulation of the said law and compare it to something else, we will be bothered with so many not-so-good conclusions.
We already know for a fact how well-funded and well-financed most of these anti-cockfighting forces are and they do spend millions for lobby money that has been the curse of the American cockers because they don’t have the resources to at least counter the onslaught of the enemy in equal footing. They might not be outnumbered, but, they are surely outgunned.
An Animal Welfare Act has been included in the law of our land today after only less than ten years of intensive campaign by the HSPCA. The eating of dog meat for “pulutan” has been greatly reduced because of media education. It was a welcome development, although, it is only fair that we allow our cultural minorities in the mountain province to continue practicing their ways like the eating of dog meat which they consider have medicinal values.
The moves of the HSPCA & PETA are slow, but are sure and well-calculated. As they spend millions of pesos in media campaign, they are also protecting their gains and making sure that territories already won will not be lost again by making sure that laws are passed in their favor and according to their plans and objectives.
For the PETA & HSPCA and the anti-cockfighting forces, the time to sow has long started but remains in high gear up to the present. The time to reap has come and they are starting to pick the fruits. The Animal Welfare Act is a great victory for the PETA & HSPCA, but for them the conquest has just began. Of course, their ultimate goal is to be able to completely eradicate the practice of cockfighting in the Philippines like what they were able to achieve in the United States.
Most of us Pinoy sabungero would say, “Oh common, they will never succeed here”. Maybe, just maybe we’re right, but if we will consider what the PETA & the HSPCA has achieved in America, then we might pause for a moment and reassess history. During the heydays of cockfighting in America, roosters are fought in the White House to entertain state guests; George Washington, John Adams and Abe Lincoln are active cockfighters and derbies were being held at the Madison Square Garden. So, is cockfighting more popular in the Philippines or was the sport more accepted in the United States. You be the judge.
Before we turn up into being another America in the making, wherein freedom is abused by a group of people to prevent other groups of people from enjoying their freedom, we should do our move now to preempt them and halt them on their tracks.
The PETA & HSPCA know that a law is their best weapon. Then, it is only fitting that we should also aim for a law that will ensure the protection, continuous practice and moreover the advancement and development of the gamefowl breeding industry and gamefowl competition in the country.
A law that will proclaim or declare “sabong” as a unique cultural heritage of the Filipinos should be passed, with all the protective clauses that will ensure, after a Cockfights Protection Law is signed, that no other law will be proposed against it. We say that cockfighting in the Philippines will not be touched because we have a huge number of government officials, political leaders and of course lawmakers that are within the cocking community. That’s encouraging, but only a law declaring cockfighting as a sport or culture that will be honored and will never be eliminated forever is the best assurance that our children and grandchildren will enjoy cockfighting and gamefowl breeding, as much as we do now.
Furthermore, considering that we were fighting roosters even before the Spaniards and other colonizers came to our shores, the continuance of cockfighting is a testament that we, as a race, has maintained our freedom through time, even only in the practice of the sport and pastime that we truly love.
Magbabantay, Magtatanggol, Magpapatibay ng Sabong