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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 26, 2010

House panel to consider cockfighting resolution

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Rep. Joey Manahan

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A resolution that would recognize cockfighting as a cultural activity will be heard by a House committee Monday morning.

HCR 277 was introduced by three members of the House who noted that cockfighting is the national sport in the Philipines and a "cherished tradition in many cultures throughout the world," according to the resolution. The Committee on Tourism, Culture and International Affairs is scheduled to consider it at 9:30 a.m. Monday in Conference Room 312.

Resolutions do not have the force of law and this one would not legalize cockfighting. Still, it is expected to draw heavy opposition from animal rights groups and others who consider cock-fighting cruelty to animals. The Hawaiian Humane Society has asked its supporters to protest the resolution.

State law classifies cockfighting as a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of one year in prison and $2,000 fine.

"It's an ignorant claim to say cockfighting is cultural. It's not cultural. It's cruel and it's a crime," said Jacque LeBlanc, Humane Society spokeswoman. "King Kala-kāua himself outlawed cockfighting in Hawai'i in 1883 and it's time that Hawai'i join the majority of the states that have made cockfighting a felony."

Jennifer Kishimori, co-founder of the Oahu Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said cockfighting is "barbaric and inhumane," and she said it was on the same level as dog fighting. She said her organization opposes any attempts to legitimize activities that would result in the cruel treatment of animals.

"In different cultures, it's acceptable to have slaves. It's acceptable to have multiple wives," Kishimori said. "But just because that's part of someone's culture doesn't mean it should be acceptable here in the United States."

Rep. Joey Manahan, D-29th (Sand Island, Kalihi, Kapālama), chairs the committee and said he introduced the resolution after speaking with constituents , many of whom are of Filipino ancestry. He introduced the resolution along with Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran D-9th (Kahului, Wailuku, Pu'unene, Spreckelsville and Pa'ia), and Rep. Roland Sagum, D-16th (Ni'ihau, Waimea, Kōloa).

Manahan said he introduced the resolution to generate discussion on cockfighting. Manahan, who said he's from the Philippines, supports the idea of cockfighting as a cultural activity.

"It's our national sport, and I think the discussion should come up," he said. "The resolution basically says it recognizes it as a cultural event, not gambling, not animal cruelty. We're trying to recognize it as nothing more than just a cultural activity."

Manahan acknowledged that he doesn't expect the resolution to pass.

"I'm sure there's going to be many people who are going to be very upset and we understand that," he said.