Animal lover files case vs Marikina gov’t
Calling the ordinances “unconstitutional” and “violative” of “a settled principle,” a resident of Marikina City has gone to court to stop the city government from prohibiting those living in resettlement areas from owning pets.
Alma Manzano, who lives in a resettlement area at Barangay (village) Fortune, asked the Marikina Regional Trial Court on Friday to nullify certain provisions in several city ordinances. These were Section 2 of Ordinance 13, Series of 1997; Sections 14 and 37 of Ordinance 67, Series of 2003; Sections 34 and 52 of Ordinance 62, Series of 2007; and Section 146 of Ordinance 188, Series of 2008.
The ordinances were approved by the city council on separate occasions from 1997 to 2008. The provisions cited prohibit pet ownership in declared resettlement areas in Marikina for the promotion of public health and safety. Sanctions for violators include citation tickets, fines ranging from P500 to P5,000 and imprisonment of up to a year.
Apart from asking for an injunction, Manzano, who was charged in 2012 for violating Section 34 of Ordinance 62 after authorities found a dog in her house, asked the court to prevent the local government from implementing the ordinances in question while her petition is being heard.
The petitioner, who had to pay a fine and remove the dog from her house for the charges against her to be dropped, was assisted by Anna Cabrera—Philippine Animal Welfare Society executive director—in filing the 20-page complaint in the Office of the Clerk of Court. The legal document, on the other hand, was prepared by the University of the Philippines’ Office of Legal Aid.
In seeking an injunction, Manzano said the prohibition of pet ownership put forward by the assailed provisions “violates the settled principle” that local governments can regulate only “acts which are not prohibited by national law.”
She cited the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007, or Republic Act No. 9482, which seeks to prevent the spread of rabies in communities “through regulatory measures”; RA 8223 which, among others, merely “regulate(s) the keeping of animals in homes…”; and the Animal Welfare Act of 1998 which calls for the regulation, not the prohibition, of “the establishment and operations of all facilities utilized for breeding, maintaining, keeping, treating or training of all animals … as household pets.”
“The lack of such prohibition on a national level implies that… ownership of companion animals such as dogs is a right and thus may only be regulated, not prohibited outright,” she pointed out.
According to Manzano, the assailed provisions also “violate the equal protection clause” enshrined in the Constitution as they are “discriminatory,” singling out residents in resettlement areas.
She said the city government “has also failed to show how banning dog ownership in resettlement areas is germane to the purpose of promoting public health and safety.”
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