PNP: Banned ‘e-sabong’ shifts to ‘guerrilla’ operations, targets OFWs | Inquirer News

PNP: Banned ‘e-sabong’ shifts to ‘guerrilla’ operations, targets OFWs

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:25 AM December 07, 2022

After being banned by the government in May, online cockfighting or “e-sabong” has shifted to “guerrilla” operations, prompting Philippine National Police chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. to order a crackdown.

On Monday, Azurin called on all police units nationwide, including the Criminal and Investigation Detection Group (CIDG), and Intelligence Group, to go after the operators of illegal e-sabong sites.


He also expressed alarm over reports from police attaches overseas that underground e-sabong operations were targeting overseas Filipino workers (OFW) abroad.

According to Azurin, local e-sabong games were being recorded and then sent abroad, where bets would be collected.


“We do not know if there are criminal syndicates behind this. The games are even rigged, because the people here already know the results. The addiction of some people to e-sabong has even gone international,” he said.

The PNP chief did not say if the operators of e-sabong sites, before the sport was outlawed by former President Rodrigo Duterte in May, were also the ones behind the guerrilla operations. “But we are monitoring a number of people [who could be involved in this].

That’s why I directed the CIDG to really check who are the ones behind these e-sabong activities and stop them at all costs, because these will again affect our poor ‘kababayans’ who are still [suffering] from the effects of the pandemic,” Azurin said.

“If this continues, eventually, it will cause the crime rate to increase, as people who are burdened with debts will turn to crime so that they can continue playing e-sabong. We knew what happened in the past, even members of the [police] and the [military] were not spared from e-sabong [addiction],” he added.

E-sabong was previously regulated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. before the Department of the Interior and Local Government recommended the closure of all sites based on the results of a survey it conducted.

About 62 percent or the majority of the over 8,000 respondents wanted to put a stop to the online sport, which gained population during lockdowns at the height of the pandemic.

Another 34 percent wanted it to continue but with tighter regulations, while only 4 percent completely supported it.


Among the reasons cited by respondents opposed to e-sabong were “addiction to gambling, bankruptcy of players, indebtedness, cost to family, neglect of work and studies, and crime.”

Before outlawing e-sabong, Duterte had defended the sport, citing the huge revenues it generated for the government. He later changed his mind, saying it fueled an addiction to gambling as he also pointed to the disappearance of at least 34 e-sabong workers and enthusiasts, now believed to be dead.

The CIDG and National Bureau of Investigation have filed criminal complaints against dozens of personalities, including police officers, in connection with the missing “sabungeros.”

All the respondents, however, remain free, as no arrest warrants have been issued against them by a court. State prosecutors have also yet to resolve the complaints against them. INQ

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