Kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges were filed Tuesday against six persons allegedly involved in the disappearance of six cockfighting enthusiasts or “sabungeros” in January last year, Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson Mico Clavano said.
The information was filed with the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) against farm manager Julie Patidongan, Gleer Codilla, Mark Carlo Zabala, Virgilio Bayog, Johnry Consolacion, and Roberto Matillano Jr.
Clavano said the prosecutors also recommended that no bail be set for the respondents.
“All remain at large. The Department of Justice, therefore, encourages law enforcement agencies to keep a look out for these people,” he said in a message to reporters.
This developed as the Philippine National Police (PNP) asked the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to take down several e-sabong (electronic cockfighting) websites, its spokesperson said Tuesday.
“We have submitted websites… account sites to the DICT and the NTC because they have the authority to take down the websites that we monitored,” PNP spokesman Police Colonel Jean Fajardo said in the public briefing.
Clavano asked the public or those who know or come to know of the six persons’ whereabouts to inform the proper authorities “so they may be tried for the crimes charged.”
In December 2022, the DOJ found that the six conspired in the kidnapping of John Claude Inonog, James Baccay, Marlon Baccay, Rondel Cristorum, Mark Joseph Velasco, and Rowel Gomez.
The sabungeros left Tanay, Rizal at 1 p.m. on January 13, 2022 to go to the Manila Arena but were forced to board a gray van at around 7:30 p.m. that day.
Meanwhile, according to Fajardo, the PNP also conducted police operations, particularly in Cebu, against e-sabong operations.
“We also arrested some individuals engaged in illegal e-sabong activities. We also confiscated the equipment they were using,” she said.
“We will continue this as part of our intensified campaign against the proliferation of e-sabong activities,” Fajardo added.
In December 2022, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the continued suspension of e-sabong operations nationwide, saying the state is obligated to protect public health and morals and to promote public safety and the general welfare.
The order suspends e-sabong—the live-streaming or broadcasting of live cockfights outside cockpits or cockfighting arenas or premises where cockfights are being held.
The EO also suspends online/remote, or off-cockpit wagering/betting on live cockfighting matches and/or activities streamed or broadcast live, regardless of the location of the betting platform.