STEPPED-UP effort by the Police Regional Office 7 (PRO7) to stop all guerrilla ‘e-Sabong’ operations’ in Central Visayas this week has already resulted in the arrest of 91 persons who were found to be either ‘operators, tellers, referees and bettors’ of the clandestine game, the Journal Group learned on Thursday.
PRO7 director, Brigadier General Roderick Augustus B. Alba said that 26 of the suspects were arrested while in the act of playing the game. Recovered from the suspects were a total of P124,638 in cash bets.
As of Thursday, 26 cases for violation of Presidential Decree 1602 or the anti-illegal gambling law in relation of Section 6 of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 have been filed against the suspects.
The PRO7 director said they have launched a massive crackdown on illegal ‘e-Sabong’ joints in the region following an order from Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin ‘Benhur’ C. Abalos Jr. and Philippine National Police chief, General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr.
“We are going all-out against personalities involved in underground e-Sabong operations in Central Visayas despite the suspension of all e-Sabong games ordered by PAGCOR last May 4,” he said.
Gen. Azurin has also ordered a strict ‘One-Strike and No-Take Policy’ when it comes to all forms of illegal gambling activities in the country since he took over as the top cop last August 4.
Last Sunday, Brig. Gen. Alba directed all his unit commanders to conduct a week-long anti-illegal gambling operations in the region specifically targeting guerrilla ‘e-Sabong’ joints.
For a start, he ordered the PRO7 Regional Intelligence Division to fully monitor and inspect Central Visayas cockpits to see to it if all of them have permits to operate.
Target of the drive in particular are former ‘e-Sabong’ outlets/stations. Brig. Gen. Alba also sought the full assistance of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group headed by Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee and the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group under Brig. Gen. Joel B. Doria in unmasking and sending to jail all personalities behind the illegal game.
A PRO7 Special Task Force was also created by Alba to oversee their crackdown versus the illegal game and ensure that all clandestine ‘e-Sabong’ websites in the region will be taken down by the Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit.
Brig. Gen. Alba said he has ordered that the ‘non-existence of e-Sabong activities in the region’ must be supported by videos/pictures with cockpit arenas checked regularly.
He also said that he has also ordered all PRO7 units to work fully with the CIDG and the ACG in identifying secret ‘e-Sabong’ sites in the region with the help of faith-based organizations, the public and local government units.
Last Monday, the Cebu City Police Office arrested 13 of the suspects who yielded P3,190 in cash bets.
On Tuesday, another 33 suspects were apprehended in 10 operations in Cebu City and other parts of the provinces of Cebu and Bohol which yielded P116,158 in bet money. Members of the PNP-CIDG and the PRO7-RID were also involved in making the arrests.
On Wednesday, five were arrest who yielded P600 in cash bets were arrested in Mandaue City.
Brig. Gen. Alba said that the total 53 suspects arrested by the Cebu City Police Office were classified as ‘bettors’ like the seven arrested by the Mandaue CPO.
On the other hand, two ‘bettor’s and one ‘referee’ were arrested by the Cebu Police Provincial Office while the PNP-CIDG apprehended five bettors and two ‘operators.’
The PRO7-RID jailed two bettors while the Bohol PPO arrested five bettors and three ‘tellers.’
Brig. Gen. Alba said their strict check showed that ‘e-Sabong’ joints located in Balamban, Carcar City, Compostela, Medellin, Minglanilla and Tuburan municipalities in Cebu were found to be no longer operating.
He added that all ‘e-Sabong’ stations in Cebu City re also closed and already non-operational.
The same has been recorded in Lapu-Lapu City and the provinces of Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor. He said that in Negros Oriental, the local police reported that there is no ordinance/resolution that authorizes operation of an ‘off-site’ cockpit betting in the province.
In Siquijor, six municipalities have also not issued resolutions/ordinances authorizing the operations of ‘off-site’ cockpit betting’ sites.
Brig. Gen. Alba said he has ordered ‘intelligence-driven’ operations to determine if cockpit arenas in the region are being utilized for the illegal activity. As ordered by the PRO7 director, all concerned police units have been instructed to regularly inspect these establishments to prevent e-Sabong activities.
Last Monday, Gen. Azurin 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 ordered all 17 Police Regional and Provincial Offices, the PNP Directorate for Intelligence headed by Major Gen. Benjamin C. Acorda Jr., the PNP-CIDG and the PNP Intelligence Group headed by Brig. Gen. Andrew D. Cayad to identify the operators of these clandestine ‘online sabong’ operations and see to it that they will be arrested and charged in court.
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.