PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief, General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. on Monday ordered a crackdown on all ‘guerrilla E-Sabong operations’ which are believed to have sprouted in some parts of the country particularly in Visayas region amid the termination of all online cockfighting operations in The Philippines last May amid its social cost to Filipinos.
The top cop said he has ordered all 17 Police Regional and Provincial Offices, the PNP Directorate for Intelligence, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the PNP Intelligence Group to identify the operators of these clandestine ‘online sabong’ operations and see to it that they will be arrested and charged in court.
Specifically, Gen. Azurin ordered an intensified campaign versus ‘guerrilla E-Sabong’ operations in Central Visayas and other nearby regions and ordered concerned police commanders to stop the illegal activity within one-week.
The PNP chief, Journal Group sources said has warned that he will order the administrative relief of regional and provincial CIDG and IG chiefs as well as city and provincial intelligence chiefs if they will fail to do their job.
Journal Group sources said that a ‘politician’ is believed to be involved in the operations of ‘guerrilla E-Sabong’ operations in Visayas region although they refused to identify him at the moment.
Gen. Azurin said he has ordered the crackdown on ‘guerrilla E-Sabong operations’ amid complaints that the lives of countless Filipinos have went astray after they got addicted to the online cockfighting games.
“Mga biktima nito, even those working abroad ay nalululong sa online sabong na ito. We even have recorded cases abroad, apparently syndicated operations ito,” he said.
The PNP chief said they have monitored some personalities as behind the illegal games and thus has asked the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Ronald O. Lee to go after them.
“Kailangan talaga na mapatigil ang mga illegal online games na ito at afftected talaga lalo na yung mga mahihirap. Parang walang mga konsensiya ang mga nagpapaaandar nito kaya dapat talagang mapatigil na ang kanilang illegal activities, otherwise magiging source ng crime ito dahil magkakakautang-utang ang mga biktima,” the official said.
However, Gen. Azurin called on the full support of the public in their effort to stop the illegal activity. “Mas madali sanang mapapatigil ang mga ito kung sasabihin sa amin ng mga tao kung saan sila nag-ooperate. Thus we are calling for the participation of everybody, including the media here,” he said.
The Marcos administration had said previously that it is not keen on tapping E-Sabong for revenues and is even willing to let go of it ‘if it will compromise the value of the Filipino family.’
Shortly before the left Malacañang Palace last May, then President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the termination of ‘E-Sabong operations’ in the country following a recommendation from then Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año whom he tasked to do a survey on the social costs of online cockfighting.
Mr. Duterte’s sudden decision to stop online cockfighting operations is believed to have prompted operators of the illegal games and their other workers to go ‘underground’ and transfer from one place to another.
Officials said other operators of the E-games and their employees were known to have operated illegally after the PRRD’s directive in order to earn money for their families.
The former Duterte administration previously refused to suspect e-Sabong because of the revenues it generated for the government particularly during the pandemic.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. or PAGCOR earlier estimated ed revenues from online cockfighting averaged P400 million monthly last year and P640 million a month since January 2022.
“E-sabong” gained popularity during the pandemic as Filipino gamblers only needed to place bets using their mobile phones. However, the disappearance of at least 34 people allegedly linked to online cockfighting sparked a Senate investigation and prompted calls for its suspension.