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To kill a cat

05:04 AM July 02, 2018

The crime happened quickly: John Vincent Tenoria, handed a slab of wood by one of his friends, strode purposefully toward a cat sitting a few meters from them and clubbed it on the head.

The world kept turning despite the evil that occurred at about 2 a.m. on Sept. 5, 2017.

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No scene-of-the-crime operatives descended on Interior Dolores Street at Barangay 66, Zone 8, Pasay City.

But a closed-circuit television camera had immortalized the moment and its aftermath: the killer and his friends — Avelino Vito Jr., Wesley C. Torres and Jomar Estrada — walking away single-file from the animal convulsed in death throes.

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It is not known exactly what moved Tenoria and company to do what they did, in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

Their crime cannot, should not, be airily dismissed as the exuberance of young men. It could be that they were ignorant of the law, but that is hardly an excuse: Beyond the law, it does not require superior intelligence to comprehend that inflicting cruelty on a defenseless animal, a living being that feels pain and is arguably capable of emotion, is barbaric behavior.

Or it could be that they viewed killing or torturing small animals as mere sport, as did a UP student, a physics major no less, who in 2009 jumped squarely on a cat that, per eyewitness accounts, coughed up blood as a result and eventually died — and crowed about it in his blog.

In that blog which he subsequently deleted in the face of a volley of public outrage, the student boasted that it was not the first time he had savaged a cat and taken pleasure in the act (“It feels good when you’re beating it up”).

He denied guilt but was found guilty just the same of animal cruelty — apparently the first in the country to be thus convicted.

He got off easy: a fine of P2,000 and two months of volunteer work for PAWS, or the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, which had brought the suit against him.

But his crimes should haunt him for the rest of his days, granting there is justice in this world.

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Their crime should also torment Tenoria and company; the cat twitching in agony, its life force draining along with its labored breath, should constitute the stuff of their nightly dreams.

According to the report of the Inquirer’s Dexter Cabalza, the four young men had pleaded guilty to the charge brought by PAWS: that they “conspired with each other to strike the cat which eventually caused the animal’s death.”

The plea bargaining agreement resulted in the reduction of the original sentence of imprisonment of 18 months minimum to only six months and a day. They each posted bail of P4,000 in February, were arraigned on April 30, and were found guilty in June. One could say that the wheels of justice have been turning.

But, at this writing, Tenoria and company have yet to do time. They remain free as a lark while they await the result of their application for probation.

It is imperative that there be punishment for this crime which plumbs the lower depths and is actually not rare. Medical journals are replete with cases illustrating the dark journey of children who inflict cruelty on animals toward an adulthood marked by the killing or torture of other people.

Does this chilling factor show in the records of law enforcers who think nothing of snuffing out the life of children like Kian delos Santos and Kulot de Guzman? Of the young lieutenants who presided over torture chambers under the aegis of Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law? Of Rolando Olalia’s torturers?

Have those caught producing “crush videos” that show puppies and other small animals being slowly tortured to death — for those who derive sexual satisfaction in watching — been tried and justly punished for their crimes? The Koreans that bred pit bulls for the most horrific, but hugely profitable, dogfights?

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TAGS: Animal Welfare Act, Avelino Vito Jr., cruelty to animals, Inquirer Commentary, John Vincent Tenoria, Rosario A. Garcellano, Wesley C. Torres. Jomar Estrada
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