6 of 10 individuals want e-sabong stopped

File photo
File photo

SIX in every 10 individuals want a stop to the “e-sabong” (online cockfight betting) operations, based on the survey conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said that in an online survey conducted from April 19 to 20, 62 percent out of the total 8,463 respondents voted against e-sabong operations, while 34 percent want it to continue but with tighter regulation, and only four percent expressed full support to it.

He said the respondents were persons engaged in e-sabong, whether they are agents, employees, bettors or players, and non-participants or non-players but related to or acquainted with the said individuals across the country.

The reasons cited by the respondents for opposing e-sabong include addiction to gambling, bankruptcy of players, indebtedness, cost to family, neglect of work and studies, and crime.

Año said this was the basis of their recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte who affirmed and ordered the “immediate” suspension of e-sabong operations on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

“This decision is rooted in a survey reflecting the sentiment of the people. Hindi ito bara-bara na desisyon,” he said.

The secretary said the suspension of e-sabong will be in effect “until a better set of framework and regulations are formulated, in such a way that it will not significantly harm any of the stakeholders and lead to the moral decay of society.”

Año said he already gave instructions to the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the implementation of Duterte’s order.

PNP Public Information Office chief Brigadier General Roderick Alba said the PNP will mobilize its information drive to guide their personnel about the order.

“If it will entail a crackdown on all persons operating online cockfighting, then we will do our job in enforcing what needs to be done,” he said.

“The PNP organization has the capacity in implementing such an order, but of course, proper coordination with the concerned agencies or offices is of great help, so we can easily trace the possible violators,” he added.

Año clarified that the traditional physical cockfight betting will continue to operate with compliance to minimum public health standards as regulated by local government units.

As of March 8, 2022, six companies have been authorized by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) to operate e-sabong since April 2021.

DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said they are also hoping that the suspension of e-sabong operations will prevent minors from getting into trouble.

He said Pagcor has no enough safeguard for the strict implementation of their guidelines that only 21 years and above shall be allowed to play e-sabong.

“Reports from the communities revealed that persons ages 20 and below are able to bet due to laxity in the registration process of e-sabong,” said Malaya.

“Nagiging ugat pa ito ng tukso sa mga kabataan o menor de edad na makagawa ng krimen para lang may pangpusta sa e-sabong. Marami itong repercussion sa ating lipunan kasama na ang mental health issues at ang pagkasira ng mga pamilya. May isa ngang inang napabalitang ibinenta ang kanyang sanggol para may pangpusta. Ganito ito kalala. Panahon na para tuldukan ito,” he added.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) is currently handling eight cases related to the disappearances of 34 e-sabong enthusiasts since last year.

Charges have been filed against over 10 individuals, including policemen, over their alleged involvement in the abduction.

The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs issued a resolution amid an inquiry, urging Duterte to order the suspension of e-sabong operations.

Duterte initially turned it down, noting that it will result in P640 million lost revenue for the government each month. This decision was welcomed by Pagcor Chair Andrea Domingo, who apparently discouraged Duterte from suspending e-sabong operations.

However, given Duterte’s recent order, Domingo said they will issue a formal memorandum for its immediate implementation.

“We will also inform the Commission on Audit (COA) auditor officially that starting today, there will no longer be revenues collected from e-sabong operations,” Domingo said.

She estimated the revenue losses amounting to P4 billion to P5 billion this year due to the said order. (SunStar Philippines)


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