The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the local government units (LGUs) to end the illegal online sabong (cockfighting) operations in their respective areas in compliance with the President’s directive.
“DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año has directed the PNP Directorate for Operations, the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group and all PNP units nationwide to put a stop to these illegal e-Sabong operations that reportedly sprouted after the President shut down the PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation)-licensed operators,” said DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.
Año’s order came at the heels of reports that seven e-sabong outfits were operating without franchises or licenses in violation of the President’s directive.
Malaya said that a similar directive was issued to the LGUs to stop all e-sabong operations in their areas of jurisdiction with the DILG also enlisting the help of the Anti-Cybercrime Division of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) ‘to put a stop to these illegal activities.’
“These illegal e-sabong outfits are operating without licenses or franchises from the national or local governments and are not remitting a single peso in revenue to the state,” he added.
Malaya asked for the public’s assistance ‘in putting a stop to these illegal operations.’
“We urge the public to immediately contact your nearest police station if you know where the studios of these illegal e-sabong operations are so we can put a stop to it. If you also know who the operators are, please contact your nearest police station or CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) office,” Malaya said.
The DILG spokesperson also warned the public that “it’s a risk to bet on these on-line platforms because it’s unregulated and you are never sure if you will be paid your winnings at the end of the day.’’
“Dahil illegal po ito, hindi n’yo po alam kung saan napupunta ang inyong pera or kung may dayaan (Since this is illegal, you do not know where your bets are going or if there is cheating),’’ Malaya warned.
Through its regional and field offices, the DILG earlier conducted the survey with respondents in every city and municipality across the country regarding the operation of e-sabong.
A total of 8,463 respondents answered the online sentiment survey of the DILG from April 19-20, 2022 to gauge public perceptions of e-sabong and to provide the President with a basis for his decision on the fate of the electronic cockfighting game.
Based on the survey results, 62 percent or a majority of those surveyed want to put a stop to e-sabong, which became prominent during the community quarantine in the last two years of the pandemic, 34 percent of the respondents want it to continue but with tighter regulation while 4 percent completely supports its operation.
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.
“The DILG recommended suspending the operations of e-sabong until a better set of framework and regulations are formulated, in such a way that it will not significantly harm any of the stakeholders or lead to the moral decay of society. The social cost is just too high,” Malaya noted.
Need to stop it
PAGCOR’s Regulatory Framework for electronic-sabong defines it as “an online, remote, or off-site wagering or betting on live cockfighting matches, events, and/or activities streamed or broadcasted live from cockpit arena/s licensed or authorized by the LGUs having jurisdiction thereof.”
“Nakakalungkot sabihing mag-iisang taon na po mula nang mawala ang 31 e-sabong cockfighters. Kaya tama at napapanahon ang pagtigil sa e-sabong. (It is sad to say that it has been nearly one year since 31 e-sabong cockfigthers went missing. That is why it is proper and timely to stop e-sabong operations). It has become a target of illegal schemes like kidnapping and corruption,’’ Malaya explained.
Malaya also pointed out that while only 21 years and above shall be allowed to play e-sabong, the reality is people, regardless of age, have become addicted to the game.
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.
“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 (This has been a source of temptation to the youth or minors to do criminal acts to have the capital to bet on e-sabong. There are many repercussions in our society which include mental health issues and conflict within the family. There was even a report that a mother sold her infant child just to have the money to bet on e-sabong. This is how aggravated the situation is. It is time to end this),’’ Malaya insisted. (Chito A. Chavez)