THE Cebu Police Provincial Office (CPPO) has intensified its drive against e-sabong after Camp Crame ordered a crackdown on the online/remote or off-site betting on live cockfighting matches in the entire country.

Then President Rodrigo Duterte ordered all e-sabong operations suspended last May following the disappearance of 34 cockfighting enthusiasts who allegedly remain missing up to now, and following complaints about the negative social impact on families with some bettors engaging in e-sabong 24/7.

But the electronic gambling on cockfighting matches has made a comeback, as evidenced by the 24 suspects arrested by police in Cebu in the last five days alone.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, operatives of the Provincial Intelligence Unit of the CPPO and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) arrested three persons who were covering an illegal cockfight outside the cockpit arena in Bugho, a mountain barangay in the southern town of San Fernando.

The suspects were Dulce Arañas, Joselito Baritos Pongase and Alberto Casamiro Rosquetes, all residents of the town.

Aside from 17 fighting cocks, they recovered four monitors, one CPU (central processing unit), one digital camera, one video camera, one router, one media converter and assorted wires that were used to broadcast the illegal cockfight live on the internet.

According to Colonel Rommel Ochave, CPPO director, they have been monitoring cockfights that might be feeding live videos on the internet that are being used as basis for e-sabong.

“We continue to conduct operations against e-sabong. We check for persons who post links of live cockfights inside legitimate cockpit arenas and use these for online betting on cockfighting. So far, we’ve only monitored the one in San Fernando,” he said in Filipino.

He said all intelligence operatives of the CPPO have been dispatched to go after e-sabong. operators.

Also on Tuesday, the CIDG Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City Field Units arrested 13 persons who were caught betting on cockfights on haringtalpakan.com using their cellphones. They did not release the names of the suspects.

All 13 were charged with violating Section 6 of Republic Act 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Colonel Peter Miguel Tagtag, CIDG Central Visayas chief, said the online broadcast that is operating illegally originally operated e-sabong before it was suspended.

Last Sunday, Dec. 4, Major Kenneth Paul Albotra, chief of the Carbon Police Station, conducted an operation against e-sabong in Barangay Ermita, Cebu City, which resulted in the arrest of eight suspects: Mario Ambi Mabanag, Juden Alcos Tugbong, Micheal Dingcong Ramas, John Alonso Palermo, Joel Ramas Rasonable, Cesario Eupe Palermo, Terso Baculpo Esdrilon and Esagani Gabison Membrebem.

Meanwhile, Police Regional Office Central Visayas Director Brigadier General Roderick Augustus Alba echoed Philippine National Police Chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr.’s order to step up the campaign against e-sabong in Central Visayas.

“We shall continue our massive campaign against e-sabong and all forms of illegal gambling. I directed all units to intensify their intelligence gathering on e-sabong operations and to immediately conduct anti-illegal gambling operations,” Alba said.

He said they are still trying to identify the persons behind e-sabong in Central Visayas, adding that they will go after them next.

Suspended

Pursuant to a May 3, 2022 memorandum issued by then Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, sabong regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), in an public advisory, suspended all e-sabong operations, directing all licensed e-sabong operators to “shut down all gaming websites and cease gaming operations to include all accredited auxiliary operations and off-cockpit betting stations.”

As of April 28, 2022, there were nine e-sabong operators licensed by Pagcor to operate in the country, all of which began operations in 2021, except for one.

Of the nine, five were already listed as having their licenses suspended even then.

Those indicated as having valid licenses were Belvedere Vista Corp. (brand: Sabong Express, registered one website), Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc. (Pitmasters Live, registered 47 websites), Visayas Cockers Club Inc. (Sabong International Ph, four websites), and Kamura Highlands Gaming and Holdings Inc. (World Slasher Live, three websites).

Kamura began operations on May 1, 2022, or just days before Duterte suspended all e-sabong operations, Pagcor’s website showed.

Listed then as “suspended licensees” were E-Sports Encuentro Live Corp. (Encuentro Live!, one website), Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technologies Inc. (Jade Sabong, one website), Newin Cockers Alliance Gaming Corp. (NCA, nine websites), Philippine Cockfighting International Inc. (Platinum Cockers Club, one website), and Golden Buzzer Inc. (Bagwisan, four websites).

Only two firms were listed with e-Sabong auxiliary operations (Esao): Visayas Cockers Club Inc. and Belvedere Vista Corp., the last of which has two cockpit locations in Cebu.

Belvedere Vista Corp., with Esao brand name Sabong Express-Central Luzon still had to determine its cockpit arenas, but its Esao with brand name Sabong Express-VisMin had cockpit locations at Grand Sportsmen Game Club Inc., M.J Cuenco Ave., Barangay Tejero, Cebu City, and at RT Dapco Cockpit in Barangay Poblacion, Daanbantayan, Cebu.

Visayas Cockers Club Inc., with Esao brand name Local Sabong, indicated its cockpit location as Visayas Cockers Club Inc. (Cockpit) in Poblacion, Basay, Negros Oriental.

Esao refers to small-scale e-sabong operations conducted by Pagcor e-sabong licensees in various geographical areas, where only local fighting cocks are used with local bettors as intended clients.

“These operations are separate and distinct from the main operations of the licensees, utilizing a different set of cockfights, local fighting cocks in the area, a separate totalizator and website, and subjected to its own regulatory fees,” Pagcor said.

As of March 14, 2022, Pagcor listed only one company as being accredited for e-sabong off-cockpit betting stations: Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc. (Pitmasters Live) with betting stations located in Resorts World Manila in Pasay City and Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque City. (AYB, CTL, PJB)