ILOILO City – An animal welfare group condemned the annual pasungay in San Joaquin, Iloilo, forcing the local government unit (LGU) to cancel the activity this year.
Pasungay – wherein carabaos owned by local farmers are pitted against each other for entertainment – is the highlight of the municipal fiesta of San Joaquin held every Jan. 19.
Pasungay has 10 matches each year. Ten pairs of carabaos fight each other using their horns in what the LGU said was part of their culture and tradition.
“Stop using tradition as an alibi,” said the Animal Kingdom Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that aims to protect and promote animal rights.
While pasungay is not a “fight to death,” it still involves animal cruelty, the group said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
“[Under the] current animal welfare law, animal fights – including horses and bulls – are seen as cruel acts, and are hence prohibited with heavy fines and sanctions,” the group added.
It also said that abusing animals “will not bring honor to any culture.”
On Friday, Mayor Ninfa Garin released a statement saying that she will cancel pasungay this year.
“Masakit sa akon buot kag daw indi ko guid daad mabaton nga ipamaan sa pumoluyo kang banwang San Joaquin kag sa mga oficianado kang pasungay nga aton anay ipaiway ang paghiwat kang pasungay kadya nga tuig,” Garin said.
She added: “Masakit sa buot ko nga indi madayun ang halos isa ron ka siglo naton nga ginahimu kag nagpakilala kang banwa kang San Joaquin. Pero para sa kaaraydan kang tanan, ipaiway anay ang pagpasungay sa kadya nga tuig bangud may nga problema legal kita nga nasumalang ukon pagasumalangan nga makaapekto indi lamang sa pamunoan kang banwa kundi ang mga tag-iya man kang kasapatan kag mga pumoluyong San Joaquinhon.”
Garin’s sentiments was supported by members of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB).
SB member Joe Abad Lazaro Jr. told Panay News that pasungay is not a form of animal cruelty, adding that since it has been practiced, no carabao had died during and after the fight.
“Wala sang history nga may napatay ang sapat ukon karbaw,” stressed Lazaro.
He added that the LGU did not violate Republic Act 8485, or The Animal Welfare Act of 1998.
Without the pasungay, the LGU only held a parade yesterday.
It also awarded a 30-year-old carabao named “Tadlang” with a plaque of honor for winning in the pasungay 17 times./PN