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Who will get ‘animal vote’? Advocacy group making a list

There’s the so-called Catholic vote and the Iglesia Ni Cristo vote. How about an “animal vote”?

The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) said it would start scrutinizing national and local candidates regarding their stand on issues raised by pet owners, wildlife enthusiasts and advocates against animal cruelty.

They will be given a set of questions starting April 25 and their answers will be posted on the group’s Facebook page for voters to evaluate and compare, according to PAWS executive director Anna Cabrera.

But even before the Q&A, Cabrera identified some national candidates who could get the vote of animal lovers for their past engagements in support of the advocacy.

She cited reelectionist senatorial candidates Francis Escudero and Gringo Honasan, who backed amendments to the Animal Welfare Act of 1998 which imposed stiffer penalties and longer jail terms for animal abusers.

Also on her list are Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales and party-list representatives Bernadette Herrera-Dy and Angelo Palmones of the groups Bagong Henerasyon and Agham, respectively.

Cabrera also recalled that Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymund Palatino filed a resolution opposing the practice of sending students to zoos and marine parks—places which PAWS wants closed—as part of their educational field trips.

Among local candidates, Cabrera cited two who “definitely” will not be included in the animal lover’s ballot.

These are Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, for refusing to heed PAWS’ clamor to have Manila Zoo’s lone elephant Mali transferred to a sanctuary in Thailand; and Marikina City Councilor Judy Magtubo, for authoring a 1996 ordinance that bars residents in resettlement areas from owning pets.

City officials defending the ordinance have argued that it only makes sure animals will be kept in communities that can really take of them. But Cabrera said it “discriminated against” residents in resettlement areas who are responsible pet owners.

“Like environmentalists, animal lovers also have issues they want addressed,”  she said. “We want to form an animal vote and make it a factor in a candidate’s bid,” she said.

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