Manila Cockers, GAB respond to e-sabong issue
I received a letter dated July 12 from lawyer Chino Paolo Z. Roxas, the legal counsel of Manila Cockers Club Inc. (MCCI), clarifying the following:
1. The Off-Cockpit Betting Stations (OCBS) operations of MCCI are legal and sanctioned by the Cockfighting Law of 1974, as amended by the Local Government Code of 1991.
2. Solicitor General Jose C. Calida rendered a reappraised opinion dated May 31, effectively upholding the legality of MCCI’s OCBS operations.
In the said opinion, the Solicitor General stated that “despite th[e] distinctions, what is being viewed and bet on are still cockfights being conducted in licensed cockpits in various localities ….” The Solicitor General opined that cockfights
being shown in OCBS were the same cockfights conducted in duly licensed cockpits. Thus, the OCBS is within the purview of the cockfighting law. It was further opined by the Solicitor General that laws against illegal gambling, i.e., Presidential Decrees No. 483 and No. 1602 do not prohibit OCBS operations per se, so long as what is being bet on are cockfights in licensed cockpits.
3. Contrary to your claims, the city government of Valenzuela did not order the closure of OCBS. Rather, MCCI only operates in areas where local government units (LGUs) have issued permits to operate. MCCI does not operate any OCBS if the LGU does not issue a permit, as in the case of Valenzuela City.
4. As you have noted in your article, MCCI diligently pays the proper amount of taxes. As a cockpit operator and pursuant to the National Internal Revenue Code, it paid more or less P58.6 million as percentage tax to the national government based on its gross receipts. In addition, it paid business taxes to the Local Government of Carmona and all the LGUs where the respective OCBS operate. Accordingly, your claim that the LGUs have lost amusement/franchise taxes from our operations is false.
5. Contrary to your allegations, MCCI’s operations did not cause the decline in horse racing revenues. The truth is, as early as 2007, or 10 years prior to the commencement of MCCI’s operations, horse racing revenue was already in a general decline. Several factors such as no increase of racing bettors, absence of headliner horses and empirical data show no direct correlation between sales from horse racing and cockfighting.
Games and Amusement Board (GAB) Chair Abraham Mitra, in turn, wrote this columnist an e-mail dated July 10 to say that:
“The statement of MCCI that [I] upheld the legality of MCCI’s operations is misleading.
“First, GAB never gave MCCI any authority to take bets on e-sabong as cockfighting at the local level is already within jurisdiction of the cities and municipalities. GAB, while I was not yet here, merely authorized MCCI to livestream its live cockfights … outside of Carmona, Cavite.
“Second, in April 2017, MCCI’s permit expired and was never renewed by GAB.
“Finally, in August 2017, the OSG rendered its opinion stating that even the local governments have no authority to authorize betting at the off-cockpit betting stations.
“Acting on the said issuance of the OSG, GAB sought the help of the [National Bureau of Investigation] for the closure of MCCI’s betting stations and two of said stations were in fact closed and several persons were arrested. Clearly, GAB was misquoted in the said article of the Inquirer. There were also more than 10 raids made on illegal bookie joints, not five as mentioned in your article.”
Due to lack of space, I will answer these issues in our next column on Tuesday.
(You can send your comments, suggestions to [email protected])
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