DOJ: Congress can pass law on e-sabong
MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday defended the legal opinion issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the regulation of online “sabong” (cockfighting) by the Philippine Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).
“The legal opinion that the DOJ rendered to Pagcor … was based on its interpretation of the Pagcor charter, which is an act of legislature,” Guevarra said.
“On the other hand, the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) opinion was apparently based on the inadequacy of gaming authority on the part of [local governments], considering the online nature of e-sabong operations,” he added.
Guevarra was sought to comment on Sen. Francis Tolentino’s remarks earlier that the DOJ and OSG could have violated the law for allowing Pagcor to issue e-sabong franchises.
But Guevarra said that if Congress believes that congressional authority was needed for the licensing of e-sabong, then Congress “should act expeditiously.”
“From a policy viewpoint, the regulation of e-sabong, whether through congressional franchises or by authority of executive agencies, is far better than e-sabong being totally unregulated,” the DOJ chief said.
Tolentino earlier questioned the “overbearing interpretation” of the DOJ and Pagcor of the authority granted to them by Republic Act No. 9487, or the Pagcor Charter.
“Where did you get the authority for you to [interpret] that e-sabong is part of the functions of Pagcor, [that it] can be regulated, can be declared as legal, and even used as legal basis?” he said during last week’s hearing of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs on the disappearance of more than 30 cockfight enthusiasts.
Malacañang ordered the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the disappearance of the cockfight players and Pagcor to investigate possible violations of e-sabong agreements.
“Unless otherwise directed, the operations of e-sabong licensees shall remain unaffected, pending the result of the above investigations,” said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
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