THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) and all local government units (LGUs) to implement a crackdown on illegal “e-sabong” (online cockfighting) operations following reports that several illegal outfits have started operations in violation of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’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-licensed operators,” said DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.
He said that the DILG has received reports that seven outfits were operating without franchises or licenses, violating the President’s directive.
Malaya said a similar directive was issued to LGUs to stop all e-sabong operations in their areas of jurisdiction.
He said that the DILG has also enlisted the help of the Anti-Cybercrime Division of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to stop 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 help 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 office.”
He also warned the public that it’s a “risk” to bet on these online platforms because it’s unregulated and never sure if winnings are paid 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,” Malaya pointed out.
The DILG, through its regional and field offices, earlier conducted the survey with respondents in every city and municipality across the country.
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 e-sabong.
Based on the survey results, 62% or a majority of those surveyed want to stop e-sabong, which became prominent during the community quarantine in the last two years of the pandemic, 34% want it to continue but with tighter regulation, while 4% completely supports it.
Acting on orders from Philippine National Police Officer-in-Charge (PNP-OIC) Lieutenant General Vicente D. Danao Jr., the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) has launched a massive crackdown against illegal e-Sabong operators who are defying President Duterte’s directive.
“We will comply with the directive of the PNP-OIC, P/Lt. Gen. Vicente D. Danao Jr. to crackdown on operators who continue to flout the e-sabong suspension order from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last May 2,” said PNP-CIDG Director Major Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz.
The official said he has ordered all CIDG special operations units, the 17 Regional Field Units, and all Provincial Field Units to continue monitoring the presence of illegal online “sabong” and build cases against their operators.
“We have started monitoring different websites and social media platforms allegedly involved in this illegal activity. This is part of our case build-up against them,” Maj. Gen. Cruz said.
Prior to the directive from Lt. Gen. Danao, the official said they have already conducted all-out operations against e-sabong since last March, resulting in the arrest of 41 individuals and the filing of nine criminal charges against them in various courts.
While the “all-out war” against e-sabong operation is being heightened, Maj. Gen. Cruz likewise emphasized that the CIDG will not fall back nor lose track of its ongoing investigation on the case of the missing 34 cockfight aficionados or “sabungeros”.
He said that the CIDG has filed criminal charges for kidnapping and serious illegal detention against the suspects in the abduction and disappearance of six men led by John Claude Inonog in Sta. Ana, Manila and businessman Ricardo Lasco in San Pablo City in Laguna.
According to PNP Spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo, Lt. Gen. Danao has ordered an all-out campaign against illegal e-sabong sites monitored in the country, most of them online-based betting sites being run in residential areas.
The PNP leadership has also ordered all its field commanders to continue inspecting the mobile phones of their personnel to see if they have e-sabong apps. Police personnel found engaging in the addicting game will face criminal and administrative charges being prepared against them.
“We’ve also dismissed police, particularly the ones who were caught robbing people because of their addictions to e-sabong,” Col. Fajardo said.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) earlier said it has monitored several online sabong websites still running illegally despite President Duterte’s directive to stop e-sabong games in the country.
They include the online sabong websites pinassabong.live, pclive1.com, sabong-express.net, phbetting.live, goperya.com, phbet44.bet, phbet.bet and phbetr.bet. By Jun I. Legaspi and Alfred Dalizon