Police await orders to suspend betting

·4 min read

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has yet to decide on the call to temporarily stop the operations of online cockfight betting, also known as e-sabong, while the investigation on the disappearance of 31 sabungeros is ongoing.

“Procedurally, we need a Senate resolution to be sent to Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.). Then Pagcor will advise the Office of the President with regard to that,” said acting presidential spokesperson Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles in a press briefing Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

In Cebu, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) is awaiting orders from Camp Crame and Police Regional Office 7 (PRO 7) on the proposed nationwide suspension of e-sabong.

CCPO deputy director for operations Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla said they will also work closely with Pagcor, the agency that supervises gambling operations in the country.

The e-sabong operations of seven companies were earlier recommended suspended by the Senate due to the disappearances of people engaged in the gambling activity.

Parilla said in Cebu, there are many legally operated online sabong operators that will be monitored by the CCPO in the coming days pending an official order from Camp Crame.

“Almost all our stations already have online sabong. Once there is a written directive from higher headquarters, it will be immediately implemented,” said Parilla.

Parilla said from the time online sabong was allowed to operate, police received many complaints from wives of husbands already addicted to the gambling activity.

Some complained that money for their household consumption would be wasted on online sabong.

According to the CCPO, online sabong appealed mostly to low- income men such as construction workers and taxi drivers.

Parilla said once these operations are suspended, a big challenge for them would be on how to monitor the gambling since it can be hidden from police.

“They can be at their house using their cellphone or computer,” Parilla said.

Investigation

Meanwhile, an e-sabong operator in Cebu who spoke on condition of anonymity told SunStar Cebu there was no need to suspend their licenses.

“We cannot question President Duterte’s prerogative because any operation that is based on a mere grant or privilege can be taken away in the interest of public welfare. But I don’t find logic in the Senate resolution that urged the suspension of e-sabong permits because of the missing persons. It should have been a resolution urging the police and the NBI to solve the mystery behind the disappearances,” the operator said.

Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chairman Sen. Ronald dela Rosa said Tuesday, March 1, 2022, they are studying the possibility of transferring the authority to issue licenses for E-sabong to Congress.

The authority to regulate and issue licenses to e-sabong operators is currently with Pagcor while Congress has oversight powers on the conduct of the operators’ activities through the Committee on Games and Amusement.

Dela Rosa admitted in a radio interview that there are lawmakers in the House of Representatives who are also operators of cockpits.

Dela Rosa said they are eyeing to reduce the number of hours allowed for online sabong which is currently at 24/7.

He said E-sabong is so addictive it could even reach Filipinos abroad.

Dela Rosa said its operations should follow provisions of the Cockfighting Law which only allows cockfighting on Sundays and legal holidays except Dec. 30, June 12, Nov. 30, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Election Day.

Cockfighting is also allowed during local fiestas but for not more than three days.

“The frequency should be lowered to cure addiction,” he said.

Syndicate

The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs has started its inquiry into the disappearances of 31 cockfighting enthusiasts in Manila, Batangas and Laguna last week.

The PNP is not discounting the possibility that a syndicate may be behind the incidents considering the similar pattern in all the disappearances.

The police investigation is being hampered by the unwillingness of involved e-sabong operators to cooperate despite the subpoenas that had already been issued

On Monday, 23 senators, including Dela Rosa, signed Resolution 996, urging Pagcor to suspend the license to operate of e-sabong operators until the cases of missing sabungeros are resolved.

Covered by the resolution are Beldevere Vista Corp., Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc., Visayas Cockers Club Inc., Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technologies Inc., Newin Cockers Alliance Gaming Corp., Philippine Cockfighting International Inc., and Golden Buzzer Inc. (JKV, TPM / SunStar Philippines)

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