Cockpit, ground zero of COVID-19 spread in Davao City, reopens
DAVAO CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines – For the first time since the pandemic, the cockfighting arena where the first cases of local transmission of COVID-19 were reported here in March 2020, finally reopened on Sunday.
The New Davao Matina Gallera, which was closed down at the height of the crowd-drawing multi-million peso derby blamed for the spread of the first COVID-19 cases here and in other regions of the country, finally held its first cockfighting derby on Sunday, Jan. 8.
A source from the Davao City Business Bureau confirmed it had granted the establishment permission to operate, a sign of post-pandemic normalization here.
Smaller crowd at six-cock derby
Maj. Rosario Aguilar, commander of the Ecoland Police Station, which has jurisdiction over the arena’s location, said she was also ordered to provide security to ensure that no untoward incident would happen during the six-cock derby.
But police said the event drew a smaller crowd compared to the thousands of people that thronged the derby here at the start of the pandemic.
That previous derby went on for six straight days, despite the cancellation as early as February 2020 by the city mayor of all crowd-drawing events leading to the Araw ng Davao, the city’s charter day anniversary, held on March 16.
After reports that a patient suspected of having COVID-19, who had earlier gone to the derby, died in a hospital, then-Mayor Sara Duterte, who is the vice president, called off the derby on its final round and issued an advisory, urging those who had gone to the event to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
Reports of more deaths of people who had been to the event made the rounds on social media and through private chat groups, but these were not confirmed.
In the absence of an actual derby in the midst of the pandemic, the city council here passed in June last year, a proposal to allow the holding of online cockfighting to generate revenues for the city.
Under the proposal, those who wanted to hold these virtual gambling activities were required to secure a franchise from the city government as the activities were heavily regulated.
Duterte supported the proposal which targeted to generate some P73.9 million in annual revenue for the city government as part of the city’s economic recovery initiative.
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