MANILA - The Philippines has approved a law increasing penalties for cruelty to animals, the presidential palace said Monday amid a social media outcry over a video showing three girls crushing a puppy to death.
President Benigno Aquino's spokeswoman Abigail Valte confirmed he had signed the bill into law before departing for Indonesia on Sunday for an Asian summit.
It raises the penalties to a maximum of three years in jail and/or a 250,000-peso ($580) fine. Previously, the maximum penalty was two years in jail and/or a 5,000-peso fine.
Aquino signed the bill on October 3, just when Philippine social media exploded in fury over a fetish video of three girls who appear to be teenagers abusing and then stepping on a wailing puppy, crushing it to death.
The video has been circulating on various websites in the past week, resulting in numerous angry remarks on the Internet.
"These people should be forced to lie on the ground and run over by a steamroller," said one comment on a message board.
However the Asian campaigner for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Rochelle Regodon, said the video was actually two to four years old and the perpetrators behind it were already in jail.
PETA had played a crucial role in the investigation of a Filipino couple who had been producing videos for sale, showing small animals being crushed to death, she said.
The couple had been in jail since August 2012 for the videos with some of the girls in the video even testifying against them, Regodon said.
PETA and other animal welfare groups said they were encouraged by the outrage since it showed Filipinos did not tolerate animal abuse.
The executive director of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society Anna Cabrera said she was happy with the stronger penalties.
"It will discourage and give a warning to those who make a business out of animal cruelty," she said.