DILG slams Facebook for inaction on illegal online sabong operation

An official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) expressed frustration over the continued illegal online sabong (cockfighting) operations on Facebook.

In a news briefing on Wednesday, June 1, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya admitted that they are saddened by the turn of events where the illegal e-sabong operation can still be viewed on some Facebook accounts.

He said the DILG has sent a formal letter to Meta, the Facebook operator in the country informing them of the Facebook accounts and pages of e-sabong operators that entice the public to bet on the unlawful gambling activity.

Malaya said that up until ‘now’ (June 1) the illegal e-sabong operations in the Facebook accounts have not been removed after visiting the Facebook pages of the unlawful cockfighting game.

The DILG spokesperson noted that Facebook has not replied to the DILG’s request adding that one of his subordinates sent a personal message where FB provided him with the link where he could place his bet on e-sabong.

Being a business entity operating in local shores, he said Facebook is bound by Philippine laws which they should abide by.

Malaya said that social media giant had swiftly shut down other pages in the past “but in this case it’s as if they are tolerating illegal activity in the Philippines, that makes them an accessory to unlawful activities with their page being a venue for illicit operations.

Malaya added that e-sabong operation is a direct violation of a presidential directive that is covered by the cockfigthing law of 1974 or Presidential decree (PD) 449 as amended by PD 1602 where it is indicated that only the traditional face-to-face cockfighting is lawful.

He explained that physical sabong (cockfigthing) should be conducted only every sundays, legal holidays and town fiestas.

“Lahat po ng uri ng sabong sa labas sa PD 449 ay illegal (All kinds of conckfighting outside PD 449 are illegal),’’ Malaya said.

Malaya confirmed that the legal team of the DILG is studying its next action in the event Meta or Facebook refuse to comply with the presidential directive as requested by the department.

He also noted that the department had sought the assistance of the other concerned agencies that will compel Facebook to take down the pages of the illegal gambling game.

In the same briefing, Malaya reported that seven illegal e-sabong sites were already closed down which include the popular Talpakan. ph and Pinasabong.com but noted that the others with PAGCOR franchises immediately ceased their operation after the President banned e-sabong operations.

But based on the police reports, Malaya admitted that there are still 12 identified e-sabong websites and eight Facebook pages of the illegal gambling activity.

The DILG official warned the illegal e-sabong betters that there is a great chance that they will not be paid since the operation is unlawful.

Malaya asserted that it is up to the next administration and Congress if it will legalize e-sabong operation on a limited basis much like the physical cockfighting which is mandated under PD 449.