CEBU

Bzzzzz: Mandaue cockpit violated PD 449 but law may not cover bettors

CEBU. Some of the arrested cockfight bettors. (Photo by Arnold Bustamante)

APPARENTLY, from initial reports, the D&C Coliseum, a cockpit in Ibabao-Estancia, Mandaue City, which police raided Monday night (August 5) was operating by virtue of a permit from City Hall under (a) a city ordinance or (b) just the good graces of City Hall administrators.

Any local ordinance, however, must comply with Presidential Decree #449 of May 9, 1974, a.k.a. Cockfighting Law of 1974.

It's not yet known whether Mandaue City's ordinance allows daily cockfights or D&C was just granted by the city permit to hold additional cockfights. The fact is the arrest of 370 cockfight bettors and other enthusiasts last August 5 was due to their participation in an alleged "illegal cockfight."

Under PD #449, cockfights shall be held only in licensed cockpits:

* During Sundays, legal holidays (except a number of specified holidays), and during local fiestas for not more than three days;

* During agricultural, commercial or industrial fair, carnival or exposition authorized by resolution of the province, city or municipality where the activity is held, also for not more than three days and subject to a number of conditions.

* Special cockfights for entertainment of tourists or for charity, governed by a set of conditions and requirements.

Bettors may not be covered

Most of those arrested last August 5 were bettors, who made the raid the biggest haul of gamblers in recent history.

But are they covered by the Cockfighting Law of 1974?

Under section 3 on penal provisions, those mentioned under subsection (a) are financer, owner, manager or operator of the cockpit; the gaffer, referee or bet taker in cockfights; or the ones who allowed, promoted or participated in any other kind of gambling in the premises of cockpits during cockfights.

Note that under PD 449, the bettors or participants liable are only those who engaged in "any other kind of gambling" at the cockpit during the cockfight. Not the bettors in the cockfight. Unless the bettors are being charged under another law.

So what if Jonas owns it?

The family of Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes owns the cockpit but, City Administrator Jamaal James Calipayan said, the mayor already "divested himself of the responsibility of the operation when he became mayor."

That must mean, he had no part in its management since he took over as city mayor in 2007 until 2016, when he became congressman, and starting last June 30, when he won and returned to City Hall.

Jonas gave up the managerial task but not of pecuniary interest. He still owns whatever is his part of the cockpit. Even if he gave up his interest, the fact that the owners are members of his family retains the potential conflict of interest. For that reason, he needed to inhibit from decisions affecting the cockpit and should've insisted that it followed the national law, not just the local ordinance.

Concern by city manager

Calipayan's fuss over the arrested "sabungeros" included sending portalets and packed lunches from a fast-food company to Camp Sotero Cabahug where they were detained. The city manager himself, Mayor Jonas's trusted man, media news reports said, personally supervised the distribution.

It wasn't a concern by City Hall over its voters but over clients or patrons of the Coliseum. It was more than any admission of Mayor Jonas's interest in the cockpit. It displayed the mayor's involvement in the cockpit although Calayaan said it is Jonas's siblings who run its operations.

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