The Animal Wellness Action (AWA) group held a news conference Wednesday urging Guam’s leaders to publicly condemn cockfighting and not ‘abet’ the breaking of the federal anti-cockfighting laws.
The organization’s president, Wayne Pacelle, called on Guam leaders to act against those who would break the law in light of the discovery of what he says is a secret schedule of cockfighting derbies planned for “The Dome” in Dededo starting on New Year’s Day and continuing through the month of January.
Guam senator Jose “Pedo” Terlaje has said that the island has real crimes to deal with and “we should not commit any law enforcement resources to appease an outsider who doesn’t even recognize our human rights.”
But Pacelle said his organization has never asked the Guam Police Department or any official to enforce the federal cockfighting ban.
“What we have asked is that they not abet criminal activities and that they not give some sort of comfort to people who are breaking the law by saying, ‘oh, this is just a cultural activity.’ I really want to stress that the governor, the senators, and other influencers in Guam, have a duty to enforce federal law, in the sense of not enforcing it in practical terms, but to really stress the importance of obeying the rule of law,” Pacelle said.
The organization has already called on Governor Lou Leon Guerrero to speak out publicly and to call on organizers to cancel their plans for the illegal event. A source within the cockfighting community shared the schedule with AWA, and the animal welfare group released the schedule to the public. The biggest outlays of cash are set for Saturdays, with each entrant in a three-cock derby required to pay $600 into the pot, and with smaller pots for fights on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
“We ask you to speak out publicly against this criminal conspiracy, call on the organizers to scuttle their plans, and announce that law enforcement personnel will be present to maintain the peace and discourage any illegal acts of animal cruelty,” said Pacelle in a letter sent to Governor Leon Guerrero Wednesday.
During the news conference, Pacelle urged Guam officials not to encourage disobedience to the law and law-breaking.
“Not abiding by the cockfighting ban is a federal felony. The rule of law matters and elected officials take an oath and that oath is to the United States Constitution. And the laws of our nation and our society matter,” Pacelle said.