By: Rey Anthony Chiu
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Nov 19, (PIA) – Beyond responding to the public health issue it is supposed to keep at bay, Bohol anti-rabies ordinance has also equalized access to justice and restored confidence in the rule of law through a [aralegal system its adopted.
While most people see an anti-rabies program as generally responsive only to public health issues, Bohol Rabies Prevention and Elimination Program (BRPEP) goes beyond that.
In fact, it also makes people better understand that the law made to protect them, distinguishes not the rich and the poor.
Here is a program backed up by an ordinance that allows the community to be active implementers through a creative dog population control mechanism that applies to both the rich and the poor and a community to see to it that it is such, hints Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz, program coordinator for animal rabies.
In Bohol, members of the Bohol Rabies Prevention and Elimination Program (BRPEP) have found a creative way to bring down the framework of the national law into the specifics of the provincial ordinance.
And aside from allowing equal opportunity for the poor and the rich to own pet dogs, it also opens to the poor an access to justice never thought to work for them.
At the meeting with the Galing Pook (GP) Awards validation team led by Professor and former Labor Secretary Nieves Confesor, BRPEP members say even the poor can now boldly hail the moneyed for their failure to comply with the anti-rabies ordinance.
Confesor, who is also the GP executive director came to Bohol to validate the BRPEP as official Bohol entry to the 2011 awards that recognize innovations in governance.
According to Atty. Abeleon Damalerio, Bohol legislator and agriculture committee chair, the creative use of paralegal forms in implementing the ordinance to communities, could make BRPEP a one of a kind innovation in the country’s unified effort too make rabies’ threat irrelevant.
While there is a national law on rabies, Bohol passed much earlier a provincial rabies ordinance and devised a system that would make the mandatory registration and vaccination of dogs easy to comply.
As dogs facilitate the spread of rabies, a successive vaccination program to achieve herd immunity is necessary, explains Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz, who is also Bohol provincial Veterinarian.
She explained that the only way to get it done is to register and consequently vaccinate all dogs and isolate them from the stray dogs.
Those dogs that are not registered and vaccinated and are loitering in public areas would be by definition, stray dogs and should be kept in dog pounds where they are eliminated if not claimed by owners within three days, the vet explained the provincial ordinance during the meeting.
As the program enlists the vigilance of communities to keep the stray dog population from contaminating the immunized, anybody who sees a stray dog can fill up a form and tick his complaint, continued Atty Damalerio at the meeting.
In rural communities, most people know the dog owners, so filing the complaints is easy.
When this is formally submitted to the Bantay Rabies sa Barangay, the anti-rabies team in the village would immediately issue notice of violations to presumed owners.
Here, owners can decide to catch is dog, register and have it immunized or sign a waiver so the BRB can initiate dog catching.
There have been cases where a rich dog-owner who refused to get his dog registered found his complaint getting elevated to the higher courts, which spells hassle for him, Damalerio said.
In most cases, the paralegal system resolves cases before the cases get to higher courts, offering a good conflict resolution venue for these types of cases,the lawyer legislator summed. (30)