Press Release
Sponsorship Speech of Sen. Pia Compañera S. Cayetano on SBN-2541
November 24, 2006


Mr. President, distinguished colleagues,

Around 300 to 400 Filipinos die needlessly of a most dangerous yet most preventable disease? This disease is rabies, an acute viral sickness transmitted through the bites of rabid dogs and other animals that is almost always fatal once it completely ravages the central nervous system.

The Philippines ranks sixth in the world today in terms of rabies deaths. And we are further gaining in notoriety after a Japanese man, who had been infected with rabies from a dog bite in the Philippines, died in a hospital in Kyoto just last November 17 becoming Japan's first victim of rabies in 36 years. Japan's health ministry this Wednesday started warning travelers to stay away from dogs while in the Philippines, when another Japanese was diagnosed with rabies after being bitten in the Philippines by a dog.

Rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease. Many countries have successfully controlled, if not virtually eradicated it, through the mandatory vaccination of their dog population, combined with other measures. What is most alarming about the disease is that its largest number of victims are children. In 6 of every 10 cases of rabies deaths, which have not rated any media attention unlike the Japanese incidents, the victims are children below 15 years old.

In 2005 alone, 271 persons died from rabies, according to the DOH. They are part of the 115,223 people all over the country who were victims of dog bites. This translates to around 316 individuals bitten by a dog every day or 13 victims every hour in 2005. The number may even be bigger considering that many people who get bitten by dogs fail to seek treatment because of the high cost entailed, ranging from P5,000 to P30,000.

Mr. President, I thus seek the immediate approval of Senate Bill 2541 that would mandate the implementation of a National Rabies Prevention and Control Program. It is more than time that we legislate a program that would protect both man's best friend and the hand that feeds them. The bill consolidates SBN 631 by Senate President Manny Villar and SBN 1899 by Senator Juan Flavier. There is already a counterpart bill in the Lower House, House Bill No. 4654, that likewise provides for a nationwide anti-rabies program.

At the core of Senate Bill 2541 is the establishment of a multi-pronged, multi-agency effort consisting of the mass vaccination of dogs, the impounding of stray dogs, an information and education campaign on rabies prevention and control, provisions on pre-exposure treatment to high risk personnel and post-exposure treatment to animal bite victims, and the encouragement of the practice of responsible dog ownership.

SBN 2541 shall make it mandatory for dog owners to register their pet dogs with their local government unit and have them immunized against rabies that shall be monitored by a registration card. (Section 5). Local dog pounds which will house stray and unvaccinated dogs shall be enforced in cities and first class municipalities, and in adjoining areas. (Section 7, 9)

Dog owners who fail or refuse to have their dog registered and vaccinated against rabies will be fined P2,000. They shall be liable to pay for the vaccination of both their pet dog and the person bitten by their dog. They shall also be fined P500 for every incident that their dog roams the streets without a leash plus additional fees when they retrieve their impounded dog. (Section 11)

SBN 2541 further institutes measures to rein in the dog population and minimize the number of unwanted stray dogs through spaying or neutering. Dogs that have been impounded three times will only be released after being spayed or neutered, at the expense of the dog owner. LGUs shall provide an incentive system whereby owners of dogs which have been spayed or neutered will be given a subsidized or discounted pet registration fee. (Section 10)

The National Rabies Prevention and Control Program shall be jointly implemented by the departments of agriculture, health, local government and education, as well as LGUs with the assistance of NGOs involved in animal welfare and the academe . (Sections 4, 6, 7, 8)

The DA, which takes care of animal health, shall undertake free, routine anti-rabies vaccination of dogs and establish rabies-free zones in coordination with the LGUs. The DOH, which looks after human health, shall ensure the necessary services and treatment at the minimum expense of the dog bite victims. (Section 6) The Department of Agriculture, in coordination with the DOH, DILG, DepEd, NGOs and the academe shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations. (Sections 6, 12) The ensuing education campaign will help make Filipinos aware of the dangers of rabies and how it can be prevented and controlled with the cooperation of dog-owners alike and concerned sectors and agencies.

The target goal of the whole program is to reduce the incidence of rabies every year and eventually declare the Philippines rabies-free by year 2020.

Mr. President, Senate Bill 2541 provides us the key to realizing this goal. The passage of this much-needed legislation provides us the key and the cure to conquering an ancient scourge that has been a historical death sentence to its victims. On behalf of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography and the original authors, I appeal for the immediate passage of Senate Bill 2541.

Thank you.

News Latest News Feed