Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Z. Duterte on Wednesday underscored the need for the country to have an enabling legislation that will penalize and hold veterinarians liable for gross negligence and ignorance in the exercise of their profession.

Duterte has filed House Bill (HB) No. 7896 or the “Anti-Veterinary Malpractice Act of 2023”, which aims to institutionalize the penalties of fine, cancellation of license to practice and revocation of a permit to operate against veterinarians found to have committed veterinary malpractice.

Under his bill, Duterte proposed to require veterinarians to avail of an insurance answerable for any claims of damages arising from the act or omission perpetrated by them, resulting in injury or death of the pet or any animal.

“The state recognizes the role of veterinary medicine in the country as a practice dedicated for the protection of the animal population through safe and proper diagnosis, treatment and surgery of these animals,” he said.

He added that the regulation in the practice of veterinary medicine is enshrined in Republic Act (RA) No. 9268 or The Philippine Veterinary Medicine Act of 2004, which in addition, institutionalizes the mandate of the Professional Regulatory Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Duterte said the Board, however, has always relied on the Code of Ethics and Code of Technical Standards for Doctors of Veterinary Medicines, including its other policies issued pursuant to RA 9268 in order to regulate the said profession, and yet the practice remains unregulated and unbridled, resulting to a number of malpractice cases against veterinarians which remain unpenalized due to lack of an appropriate law for the purpose.

Duterte said it is the policy of the State to protect and promote the welfare of all animals by supervising and regulating the establishment and operations of all facilities utilized for breeding, maintaining, keeping, treating or training of all animals either as objects of trade or as household pets.

“As part of fulfilling this, the State shall be able to standardize and regulate the practice of veterinary medicine that is tasked to protect the animal population in the country through safe and proper diagnosis, treatment and surgery of animals,” Duterte said.

HB 7896 in part states that: “Any veterinarian who performs any act constituting to veterinary medicine malpractice or illegal surgery shall be punishable by fine or both and, the cancellation of the practitioner’s license to practice veterinary medicine, revocation of the Certification of Registration, or cancellation of the special permit issued on behalf of his/her practice.”

Duterte said under his bill, medical malpractice in veterinary medicine is punishable by a fine ranging from PHP20,000 to PHP250,000, apart from the cancellation and revocation of permits and licenses.

The measure also states that all veterinarians shall be required to obtain Veterinary Malpractice Insurance of no less than PHP50,000 to answer for any claims of damages arising from the act or omission perpetrated by the insured resulting in injury or loss of life to any animal.

It added that failure to comply with any veterinarian from the provisions of the Act shall cause the suspension of his/her professional license and shall remain effective until the compliance of the said provision. (PNA)