Some ‘e-sabong’ operators still dodging Duterte ban
MANILA, Philippines — At least six websites used for betting on online cockfighting games are still operating despite the ban on “e-sabong” imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this month, the Philippine National Police reported on Wednesday.
The President approved last May 3 the recommendation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to stop e-sabong following reports on the disappearance of 34 “sabungeros” and findings of a DILG survey in cities and provinces that e-sabong operations led to the deterioration of moral values among many Filipinos.
PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) has already asked service providers to take down the websites.
However, she admitted that it might take at least two weeks for the providers to completely shut down the websites.
Fajardo said the ACG has yet to identify the companies behind the six e-sabong websites and was investigating if the corporations behind them were the same companies initially allowed by gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to run e-sabong operations.
At least 8 still active
On Monday, Pagcor also reported to the PNP that several e-sabong online sites were still running illegally.
According to Jose Tria, Pagcor vice president for internet gaming licensing and regulation group, they monitored at least eight active online cockfighting websites: pinassabong.live; pclive1.com; sabong-express.net; phbetting.live; goperya.com; phbet44.bet; phbet.bet; and phbetr.bet.
“We have to understand that this is internet-based, and we cannot just [easily] find the owners [of the websites]. We really have to coordinate with the service providers to find out and establish the identity of those behind the illegal e-sabong operations,” Fajardo explained.
The PNP said it would coordinate with Pagcor to locate other e-sabong websites that continue to operate illegally. However, it said it did not receive information about physical betting stations of e-sabong games that were still operating since the ban more than two weeks ago.
As to the possibility that police officers might be involved in the illegal operations of e-sabong, the PNP assured the public there would be no sacred cows in its crackdown.
“The PNP leadership said that we are not sparing anyone in this investigation. And the order from Pagcor is clear: All e-sabong operations are suspended because of the order from our President, as an offshoot of the several incidents involving the e-sabong game,” Fajardo said.
Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, PNP director for operations, earlier said they would first ensure that no PNP personnel was engaged in e-sabong operations, either as players or collectors of protection money.
“We will start with the PNP in order to have moral ascendancy in our campaign against e-sabong,” he said. “We should not permit guerrilla-style activities of e-sabong by unscrupulous individuals and groups.”
“This is a warning to all PNP personnel who are still patronizing e-sabong that you are violating specific instructions of our Commander in Chief and our PNP officer in charge [Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr.],” De Leon added.
According to Fajardo, at least eight police officers have been charged criminally and administratively for their involvement in e-sabong.
Based on the survey conducted by the DILG, 62 percent or a majority of the more than 8,000 respondents wanted to put a stop to e-sabong, which gained following during the imposition of community quarantines during the pandemic.
Another 34 percent of the respondents wanted it to continue but with tighter regulation, while only 4 percent completely supported it.
Among the reasons cited by the respondents for opposing e-sabong were “addiction to gambling, bankruptcy of players, indebtedness, cost to family, neglect of work and studies, and crime.”
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