KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines?Leave us alone!
This, in essence, was the message that Antipas, North Cotabato Mayor Christobal Cadungon sent to animal rights advocates, who had slammed the penchant of his constituents for horse fighting.
Earlier, the Manila-based Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) said horse fighting is a violation of animal rights.
PAWS said the practice should be stopped.
But Cadungon said the people of his town, and other areas in North Cotabato, continue to patronize horse fighting because it is part of their customs and tradition.
He said horse fights are staged during fiestas and foundation anniversaries.
?It has been the practice for so many years already as part of the tradition and customary beliefs of the indigenous people of Mindanao? he said.
Cadungon said he could not remember any horse dying during fights.
Cadungon said there will be no stopping horse fights in Antipas on Oct. 14, during the town?s 28th founding anniversary.
Horse derby is among the highlights of the event, he said.
Cadungon said 42 pairs of horses were scheduled to fight during the four-day event.
He said horse owners, from as far as Bukidnon, Davao del Sur and Maguindanao, will be here to put their animals on the ring.
?Do not consider horse fighting as cruelty to animals but a form of sports traditionally done by the tribal chieftains of different tribes in Southern Philippines,? he said.
Cadungon said before horses are put on the ring, veterinarians check on the animals? condition.
?We make sure that horses are in good health condition before they are allowed to fight,? he said. Williamor A. Magbanua, Inquirer Mindanao