The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) joins the Philippine National Police (PNP) in going after illegal online cockfighting or e-sabong operations.
Reports reaching the office of Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año showed that at least seven e-sabong outfits continue to operate without a license or permits in violation of President Duterte’s directive stopping the online game.
“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 spokesman Jonathan Malaya.
Malaya said a similar directive was issued to local government units to stop all e-sabong operations in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
He said the DILG has also enlisted the help of the NBI’s anti-cybercrime division in stamping out the e-sabong.
“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.
“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,” Malaya said.
He also warned the public against betting on e-sabong, saying it is unregulated, hence, it is uncertain if the bettors would get their winnings.
“Because it is illegal, you don’t know where your money goes or if there is fraud,” Malaya stressed.
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 percent of those surveyed were against e-sabong, 34 percent in favor, but with tighter regulation, and 4 percent in favor without conditions.
The reasons cited by the respondents for opposing e-sabong included addiction to gambling, bankruptcy of players, indebtedness, cost to family, neglect of work and studies, and crime.
“The DILG recommended suspending the operations of e-sabong until a better set of framework and regulations have been formulated to avoid significantly harm to the aficionados and potential moral decay among the people. The social cost is just too high,” Malaya said.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) defined e-sabong as “an online, remote, or off-site wagering or betting on live cockfighting matches, events, and/or activities streamed or broadcasted live from cockpit arena/s licensed or authorized by the LGUs having jurisdiction thereof.”
“It is sad to say that it has been only one year since the disappearance of 31 e-sabong aficionados. So it is right and timely to stop e-sabong. It has become a target of illegal schemes like kidnapping and corruption,” Malaya said.
Malaya also pointed out that while only 21 years and above were be allowed to play e-sabong, the reality was people, regardless of age, have become addicted to the game.
Reports from the communities revealed that persons aged 20 and below were able to bet due to laxity in the registration process of e-sabong.