By: Malotz Q.
April 28, 2011 Episode 29
Guest: Luis Buenaflor, Jr of The Animal Kingdom Foundation
Topic: Tambucho Killings
Just recently, tambucho gassing was reinstated as a means of putting down unclaimed dogs in pounds through Administrative Order No. 13, which was issued last April 12, 2011 by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala upon the recommendation of the Committee on Animal Welfare (or CAW). AO No. 13 officially seeks to implement the Animal Welfare law (RA 8485 of 1998), but has caused quite a stir within the animal welfare and animal rights community. It appears that of all the government representatives in the Committee, the only member who voted against the reinstatement of tambucho gassing was the one from the National Meat Inspection.
Last Thursday, this howl of protest was personified in Louie Buenaflor, our studio guest at dzUP. Louie, an anti-animal cruelty advocate from the Animal Kingdom Foundation, came prepared to be effusively outspoken.
Tambucho gassing is the “technique” of exposing dogs to the exhaust fumes of a vehicle until they die of suffocation and poisoning. It had been successfully deleted last year, specifically on August 24, 2010, from a listing of acceptable methods of euthanasia for animals, after animal welfare groups vigorously fought against its inclusion.
In fact Khrysta and I dwelt on the topic on Kwentuhang Pets, Atbp last year, with Anna Cabrera of PAWS as guest via telephone interview. Anna had ventured to say then that the deletion of tambucho gassing (from the listing in the AO) would be “permanent, hopefully.” And we came away from that discussion optimistic.
Alas, fast forward to April 12 this year (or just eight months after the good news), and Louie now finds, totally incredibly, that CAW has overturned itself, for some “mysterious reason”. He went so far as to say that by countenancing “tambucho murders,” veterinarians in the CAW have betrayed their sworn duty “to protect animals.”
Guess we were quite floored but Louie couldn't help taking potshots at these veterinarians during the program. He angrily blames and holds them responsible for the unconscionable and “idiotic” resurrection of tambucho killing, pointing out that this detestable method is the exact opposite of merciful and painless killing that is the essence of euthanasia..
Louie described for us what he had personally witnessed during two occasions of gassing... On both occasions, some thirty dogs were dragged and dumped into a steel box that should comfortably fit only ten or twenty. The box had a small hole through which one end of a tube was inserted, with the other end attached to the exhaust pipe of a government-owned vehicle. Once the box was closed, the vehicle's ignition was turned on, and the gas pedal was revved up to produce fumes. The dogs expectedly went on a raucous crying rampage, helplessly scratching the steel walls for a good long time before they died. The process, according to him, took thirty minutes, the animals obviously suffering a lot before succumbing to fatal relief.
Worse, on yet another occasion, he witnessed this same procedure, except that – owing to some glitch – the dogs remained alive despite the protracted exposure to the exhaust fumes. What he saw next was hair-raising: the handlers then dragged these dogs one by one from out of the box, and then dumped them into a water-container to drown.
Before the program went on air last Thursday, Khrys had invited CAW representatives to guest for the episode and had continually followed up the invite to ensure their attendance.. Unfortunately, no one came. And those who promised to call back, never did.
Incidentally, before going on air that day, Khrys was able to talk by phone with Dr. Karlo Gicana, Director of the UP Veterinary Hospital (who was our studio guest last April 7). He said the following:
“We should all be united in forwarding animal welfare in the country. But we need to strike a balance... we need some time to allow LGUs to comply and to come up with the guidelines... we need practicality in our laws. In Asia, nakakahiya na wala tayong implementing guidelines for the Animal Welfare Act. We need updated, relevant guidelines to AWL...hinaharang ng groups.”
When asked for his reaction, Louie went ballistic and said he's really not surprised there are no IRRs to date because, “CAW will cease to exist once the IRR is drawn and implemented.” Khrys asked whether or not that should make anyone susceptible to a case before the Ombudsman. Louie said his group is looking at possible steps but did not elaborate.
Considering the absence of representatives from CAW quite made the discussion that day much too one-sided, I decided to say on air (addressing parties who should have been but were not represented in the debate because they did not come to the show) thus so:
“Alam nyo po, pare-pareho tayong nasa serbisyo ng gobyerno kaya maganda sanang nakikipagtulungan tayo sa mga bagay na tulad nito... isang paraan ay ang pakikipag-dayalogo sa mga grupong may nais na maiparating... iyan po ang paraan ng demokrasya. Huwag po sana nating sayangin uli ang mga pagkakataong ganito.”
Louie, then and there, agreed.
Which brings us to ask –
if people, in their heart of hearts
truly believe they're right
then why ever not, before the world
after all, fear of folly is folly
for folly, like truth, exists not