Dela Rosa, Pagcor chief clash over e-sabong suspension
MANILA, Philippines— A heated exchange ensued between Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chairperson and CEO Andrea Domingo on Friday over the Senate’s proposal to suspend e-sabong (online live cockfighting) operations pending resolution of the cases involving the disappearance of 34 cockfighting enthusiasts.
According to Dela Rosa, the decision is now up to Pagcor after 23 senators signed a resolution calling for the suspension of e-sabong operarations.
But the Pagcor chief told the Senate committee on public order that President Rodrigo Duterte supposedly denied agreeing with the suspension based on her conversation with Executive Secretary Medialdea.
This was contrary to Dela Rosa’s earlier claim that the President agreed with the suspension.
“So ako ngayon ang sinungaling, na ako mismo ang kausap ni Presidente, sinabihan ako niya ng ‘Sige, sige sige’. O Ako ngayon ang sinungaling?” the committee chairman asked Domingo during the panel’s hearing.
(So I’m the liar now? I was the one who talked to the President, he told me ‘Alright, alright, alright.’)
“Ibig sabihin si Secretary Medialdea would like to make me appear na being the chairman of this committee and personally nagsabi kay Presidente, ako ngayon ang sinungaling?” Dela Rosa further asked.
(Does this mean Sec. Medialdela would like to make it appear that, being the chairman of this committee and having personally told the President…I’m now the liar?)
“Ay hindi ko po alam kung ano ang nangyari sa inyo,” the Pagcor head said. “Pero yun po ang sinabi ko kasi kami namin po, hindi po kami pwedeng… dahil ordinaryong empleyado lang po kami. Wala po kaming powers e.”
(I don’t know what happened with you. What I’m saying is that we can’t [just suspend the permits] because we are just ordinary employees. We don’t have powers)
Dela Rosa countered this, reminding Domingo that she is not just an ordinary employee since she is the chairperson of Pagcor and therefore has authority over the agency.
In fact, the Pagcor chief herself has been claiming that the agency is regulating the online cockfighting operations, the senator pointed out.
Domingo then later lamented that it seemed Dela Rosa was “not only urging Pagcor, but you’re commanding” the agency to suspend the e-sabong operations.
“No,” Dela Rosa quickly said, “Paano kami magco-command sa inyo. You are under the executive branch of government, Congress is a co-equal branch of government.”
But Domingo said, “Because there’s a difference between urging and ordering us. When you say urging , sinasabi nyo discretion namin. Pag po discretion namin, ang laki po ng sagutin namin sa COA (Commission on Audit) at sa korte.”
“Kaya nga sinasabi ko pag may gusto, may paraan, kung ayaw maraming dahilan,” Dela Rosa answered.
The senator again lost his cool when the Pagcor chief commented that law enforcement agencies should be held liable in case more cockfight aficionados disappear.
“Ayun na, pinapasa na natin yung problema e. Pinapasa mo na naman sa law enforcement agency,” said Dela Rosa, who formerly served as chief of the Philippine National Police.
“Kayo nga ang may primary juridiction over e-sabong, ngayon ayaw nyong i-suspend. Kung may mawala na namang tao ipasa sa law enforcement. So pasahan na tayo dito…we’re passing the buck.”
Domingo shot back, “Sino po ang mag iimbestiga at manghuhuli, kami po?”
“Hindi nga kayo ang nanghuhuli but you’re the one regulating. Pano sila makaka operate kung wala silang license to operate galing sa inyo? Kayo ang nagbibigay,” Dela Rosa pointed out.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III then interjected and asked if Pagcor was against the suspension.
To this, Domingo said they are not against the suspension but she only wants “some protection” from the President in case the agency is brought to court for suspending online cockfighting operations.
“Pag po sinabi ni Presidente sige, at least mayroon po kaming protection,” she said.
The Pagcor chief then promised to go to Malacañang after the hearing to get a clear guidance from the President.
“Magre-retire na po kasi ako e. Ayoko pong magkautang ng bilyon bilyon kaya po tatanungin ko sya, pag sinabi lang kahit verbal lang, isuspende mo , isu-suspende po namin,” she said.
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