The Inter-Agency Task Force (AITF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in its Resolution No. 79 on Thursday, October 15, 2020, has allowed the return of cockfighting and horse race betting operations in the country.
The resolution further stated the operation of licensed cockpits and the conduct of cockfighting shall be allowed in areas placed under modified general community quarantine or lower but still subject to strict observance of health and safety protocols and implementing guidelines as may be issued by the Department of Interior and local government.
It further added that in-person audience, online or remote betting, and live broadcasting/telecasting of cockfights shall not be permitted. The local government units shall have the final decision on whether such operation of licensed cockpits and conduct of cockfighting can proceed in their respective areas.
The same with the off-track horse race betting operation in the areas under general community quarantine or lower, and also subject to health and safety regulations.
For Games and Amusement Board (GAB) Chairman Abraham Khalil "Baham" Mitra, he is happy and relieved that millions of people depending on horse racing and cockfighting will be allowed to go back to their livelihood again.
“We thank the IATF for making sure of the safety of the ‘sabungeros.’ Our gratitude also to the cockfight operators, breeders associations, our lawmakers sympathetic to the industry, agrivet companies, media and others who have one way or another helped push for the resumption,” Mitra said.
“My call to ‘sabungeros’ is let’s be safe and follow the strict health and safety protocols provided by the IATF and the DILG,” he added.
Based on GAB’s report, the gamefowl industry’s worth stands at P50 billion and is exhibiting growth more with the stoppage of the cockfighting activities due to Covid-19.
It has affected 30,000 breeders, 40 million gamefowl, and 14,000 poultry supply stores nationwide, and a sales drop in the feeds industry of 50 percent or equivalent to P15 billion, and P3 billion loss for veterinary products, vitamins and vaccines.
The industry also affected 700,000 employment that includes cockpit employees and workers, breeders and farmhands, informal sectors, poultry supply employees, licensed gaffers and feeds, and agri-vet company employees.
GAB has registered 1,200 cockpits nationwide on an average of 20 employees per cockpit for a total of 24,000.
Because of the pandemic, the government has lost around P2,406,260 from international derby that includes income from licenses issued (P942, 480); income from permits issued (P270,680); and income from derby assessment fee (P1,193,100).
Meanwhile, a total of P1,232,372,831.34 is the estimated government income loss because of the temporary halt of horse racing operations due to the pandemic.
It also affected 629 GAB-licensed betting operation personnel (managers, computer operators, cashiers, manual verifiers and tellers) of Manila Jockey Club, Inc., Philippine Racing Club, Inc. and the Metro Manila Turf. It also sent 669 Off-Track Station operators without a source of livelihood. Further, the data excludes other horse racing employees who are part of the jurisdiction of the Philracom.