By Jose Santino Bunachita
Staff Member

CEBU CITY (December 9, 2022) — Cebu City will hold its first ever “Animal Welfare Summit” on December 13 and 14 at the SM City Cebu Trade Hall.

Over 200 barangay officials, city officials, law enforcement agencies’ representatives, and animal welfare advocates are expected to participate in the event, which is the first of its kind in the country.

“This is a convergence activity among our stakeholders para makahibawo ‘ta unsay gusto nato. We will discuss the concerns and complaints about our laws,” said Dr. Jessica Maribojoc, head of the City’s Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF), in a press conference this morning.

The DVMF and the Office of Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin N. Garcia are organizing the summit.

Garcia is the head of the City Council’s new animal welfare, which is also a first of its kind among local government units in the country.

This is a convergence activity among our stakeholders para makahibawo ‘ta unsay gusto nato. We will discuss the concerns and complaints about our laws.

Dr. Jessic Maribojoc, Cebu City veterinarian

Maribojoc said they hope to gather from stakeholders their inputs, innovations, and ideas to improve the city’s policies on animal welfare.

Part of the summit’s activities is a workshop where stakeholders will formalize their recommendations for submission to the office of the vice mayor.

The summit’s theme is “Changing Perspectives on the Human-Animal Relationship.”

Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin N. Garcia, chairman of the committee on animal welfare, presides over one of the regular sessions of the 16th City Council. (PIO/File)

The summit will also feature several speakers, including the regional animal welfare coordinator, the Animal Kingdom Foundation, Bureau of Animal Industry, Humane Society International, and the University of the Philippines – Los Baños.

At the national level, there is Republic Act 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act of 1998. And at the local level, there is Cebu City Ordinance No. 2526, which provides penalties for individuals who cause harm and maltreat animals.

“Kibol”, a five-year-old feline who was once a stray cat and rescued and spayed by the City’s Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF) then adopted by Island Rescue Organizations (IRO) president Annalyn Aizpuru (left), listens during a press conference by Aizpuru and DVMF Chief Jessica Marijoboc. (PIO/File)

“We have a lot of innovative ideas from our stakeholders that could be elevated. That will be a big step in dealing with animals in the city,” Maribojoc said.

Even before the summit, the city government already has several new programs on animal welfare.

The Cebu City Police Office personnel who underwent training as animal welfare officers last November 25. (PIO/File)

For one, the city partnered the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to establish an Animal Welfare Desk in police stations where people can go directly to report cases of animal abuse for investigation and filing of appropriate cases.

Last month, the DVMF also trained animal welfare enforcement officers from the CCPO.

Maribojoc said the summit is also timely after a recent viral incident involving “Bonbon”, a dog who had a knife stuck in his head.

𝗕𝗼𝗻𝗯𝗼𝗻, after being rescued and brought to a veterinarian’s doorsteps on Nov. 9. (Photo: S𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘯𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘣 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘢 𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘰 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘱𝘩𝘰𝘵𝘰𝘫𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘈𝘭𝘥𝘰 𝘉𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘺𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘍𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘯)

Photos and videos of the dog circulated in social media and sparked outrage from animal welfare advocates.

Bonbon was eventually located, and brought to a clinic. The knife was taken out and he is currently recuperating from the incident.

He is currently under the custody of Happy Tails Philippines, which is also reviewing applicants who want to adopt him. Maribojoc said there are more than 20 interested adopters, including one from the US.

Bonbon is expected to also attend the upcoming summit. #