Senate panel recommends limiting e-sabong operations to Sundays, holidays; installation of CCTVs in all betting stations

The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs is seeking to regulate the operations of online cockfighting (e-sabong) and limiting its operations only every Sunday and legal holidays.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said this is just one of the initial recommendations of the Senate public order panel, which he chairs, aside from the immediate filing of approprate charges against those involved in the disappearance of more than 30 cockfight enthusiasts.

“There is a need to craft a law regulating the e-sabong industry which includes, among others, limiting e-sabong operations to Sundays and legal holidays, almost similar to that provided in Presidential Decree 449 or the Cockfighting Law of 1974,” Dela Rosa said during the continuation of the hearing on the case of the missing “sabungeros.”

“Such regulation will also include clear delineation of powers and functions of government agencies involved in sabong, strict implementation of imposition of taxes to e-sabong operators and its agents, and installation of CCTV cameras not only in betting station but as well as in areas where the actual cockfighting are being conducted,” he said.

Dela Rosa said the panel also finds it necessary to pass a law mandating all local government units (LGUs) to include the installation of CCTV cameras in commercial establishments especially in all off-betting stations, gambling arenas, gaming sites, among others, as a requirement for the issuance of a business permit.

Dela Rosa also said the panel, likewise, recommends that Money Transfer Facilities apply a strict implementation of the “Know-Your-Customer”policy not only during the registration stage but as well as usage and management of account to ensure that minors would not be able to use their facilities for e-sabong or any other gambling purposes.

Part of the committee’s recommendation is the need to institutionalize the reward system for persosn who witness and has actual knowledge of the crimes committed to aid law enforcers in the conduct of their investigation.

Also, to deter individuals to conceal the commission of a crime, the senator also said the panel is recommending increasing the penalty for obstruction of justice under PD 1829.

Dela Rosa also said the panel urges the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to include in its regulatory framework the commission of a crime and/or offense within its premises—if the operator is found negligent—and failure to cooperate in its investigation, as grounds for suspension and/or cancellation of license.

The panel also asks the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to immediately collect taxes due from e-sabong operators in accordance with Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 25-2022 and other memoranda to be released in relation to it, as well as strict imposition of penalty for those who failed to pay the correct taxes.

The panel also called on the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to immediately file criminal, civil and/or administrative cases against the persons-of-interests or suspects in the case of the missing 34 individuals linked to e-sabong operations.

“Justice must be served. Gano’n ang talagang dapat mangyari. So ituloy ninyo. Huwag kayong matakot kung sino mang nasa likuran ninyo kahit gaano silang kalaking tao, gaano sila kayaman, gaano sila karaming pera, ‘wag kayong umatras. Laban tayo. Tuloy niyo ang imbestigasyon (That should happen. So just continue your operations. Don’t be afraid even if those behind the case are influential or wealthy people, don’t back out. Just fight and continue the investigation),” Dela Rosa told representatives of the PNP-CIDG.