The century-old bullfighting or Pasungay in the northern Iloilo town of San Joaquin will not be staged again this year, the town's local chief executive has confirmed.
The festival, held every third Saturday of January in time of the town's fiesta, was first called off in 2019 due to animal cruelty issues raised by animal welfare groups.
In a statement on Thursday, San Joaquin Municipal Mayor Ninfa Garin cited that Pasungay is part of the culture and tradition of the town, which was passed down through generations but will not happen again this 2020.
Although it was called off last year, the mayor said the local officials have defended the festival as part of the municipality's culture and tradition and does not violate any laws on animals.
This is not a form of animal cruelty because, in fact, we are celebrating the importance of our animals in our everyday life as an agricultural community, Garin said.
The local officials approached different local and national government agencies to push for the resumption of Pasungay but it has not solicited positive feedback.
Garin assured San Joaquinhons that the local officials will continue to fight for its resumption. With firm determination, (we) assure everyone that we will not stop to exert effort for the resumption of Pasungay, she said.
Last November 2019, Iloilo 1st Board Member Marcelo Valentin Serag sought the resumption of Pasungay in his privilege speech during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session.
He raised then-Iloilo provincial veterinarian Silvino Teodosio comment that bullfighting in San Joaquin is not a blood sport but is more of a wrestling match where each side comprises a bull and his human trainer.
This is contrary to the claims of Animal Kingdom Foundation, a non-governmental organization, on its Facebook post days before the staging of Pasungay in 2019.
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 for violators. Abusing animals will not bring honor to any culture. Stop using tradition as an alibi, the group said.
Citing Teodosio, Serag said animals involved do not attempt to head-butt or use its horn to impale, puncture or piece any part of the body of its opponent, so it is considered as a bloodless sport.
Garin, in a phone interview on Friday, said the town has not arranged an activity to replace the annual Pasungay.
A coronation night for the fiesta queen will instead be held on Saturday night, she said.
Source: Philippines News Agency