AUGUST 20, 2008
(STAR) By Reinir Padua - Without the microchips supposed to have been implanted in them, these animals are just ordinary “horses with no name.”

A Commission on Audit (COA) report noted that a delay in the implementation of a “microchip” program of the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) rendered some horses with no proper identification.

“Lack of proper coordination resulted in considerable delay in the implementation of the microchip program of the agency. Thus, of the target 1,088 microchips implantation, only 213 or 19 percent were implanted,” the latest COA report stated.

State auditors said the exact identification of each horse is needed to be able to participate in any activity – show, sports, breeding, racing or even auction sales.

At present, the local method of identification only includes the horse’s sex, coat color, marking, hair whorls, brands and other external features.

With this, the Philracom started a program to use microchips as an additional tool to properly identify horses and even made it a requirement for horse registration.

Under the project, the implanted microchip would be registered to a computer program with 15 numeric digits representing the details of the identity of the horse that the Philracom needs.

“The use of microchip is as fast, as accurate and automatic tool for horse registration anytime and anywhere it is needed. This program is considered to be the internationally accepted norm and standard as a means to simplify the identification of a horse,” state auditors said.

Apart from providing breeders and owners, horse identifiers of racing clubs and events organizers a reliable means of identification, the project also aims to avoid any illegal substitution of horses especially in activities like racing, breeding, auction or sales and transport.

Under Philracom resolution dated Oct. 17, 2006 that approved the implementation of the program, the first phase was supposed to have been implemented from January to June 2007 for horses born in 2005.

A second phase would have run from July to December 2007 for horses born in 2006, while the third phase would have been initiated from January to June 2008 for horses born in 2008.

This would have been followed by implantation every June to December of the each year for horses born 2009 onwards.

“So that on April 17, 2007, a total of 1,088 microchips with a total cost of P925,000 were purchased from Plaridel Products & Services, an exclusive distributor of the said chips. However, it was learned that the implantation was undertaken only from July to October 2007, only 213 or 19 percent of the total chips purchased were implanted to the foals,” the COA report stated.

State auditors observed “lack of proper coordination” with the owners of the animals before the project was started.

Because of this, there were cases when the implantation was not implemented due to the transfer of ownership and place of the horses’ stables, failure of the horse trainers to attend the implantation or even the absence of the horses during the scheduled implantation.

Under the Philracom’s board resolution, the penalty for failure to attend the scheduled implantation will be P2,000 fine, and the horse shall not be allowed to be registered without the microchip requirement.

State auditors recommended to the Philracom to guarantee the completion of the program this year.

“Strict monitoring will likewise be done since delaying further the implementation would defeat the purpose of the program. In the future, a thorough and strict evaluation as to the urgency of the need to implement a program should be made in order to avoid unnecessary use of funds,” they said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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