Teves confirms past stint with e-sabong when it was not yet banned by gov’t
MANILA, Philippines — Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. admitted Thursday to running an online cockfight “a long time ago” before the government suspended it.
In an interview, the suspended congressman asserted that e-sabong is not gambling and that no existing law says it is illegal.
Why is e-sabong banned now
The Philippine National Police has been cracking down on e-sabong operations based on President Marcos’ Executive Order No. 9 issued in December last year.
With the EO, the government outlawed online betting on cockfights and the live streaming or broadcasting.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government had previously clarified that the decrees prohibit all forms of cockfighting other than the in-person activity allowed only on Sundays, holidays, and town fiestas. The decrees also justify the crackdown.
After at least 34 fans went missing in May last year, Mr. Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, ordered an end to e-sabong operations.
‘Testing the technology behind it’
“Before, before, before. There is no law. A long time ago, yes. A long time ago, we were testing the app. We were testing the technology behind it,” he explained in a mix of English and Filipino at ANC’s Headstart.
He said he no longer operates an e-sabong as he does not own a franchise. However, he added, he knew the people who owned an e-sabong.
Teves likewise said he did not own a small-town lottery or STL.
“Totoo ‘yung e-sabong, marunong ako niyan. Kasi I was one of the first who developed that, ‘yung how it is, the game. Pero dati naman, hanggang ngayon nga, I don’t know if it’s really illegal or what, and wala naman talagang batas sa e-sabong,” he said.
(On the e-sabong, it’s true. I know how to do that. Because I was one of the first who developed that, how it is, the game. But before, until now, I don’t know if it’s really illegal or what, as there are really no laws about e-sabong.)
He then pointed out that not all e-sabong are gambling.
“Hindi naman lahat ng e-sabong gambling. ‘Pag may pera, may gambling iyon. ‘Yung e-sabong na may tokens, credits; hindi naman pera ‘yun eh,” he said.
(Not all e-sabong are gambling. If there is money, that is gambling. There’s e-sabong that has tokens, credits; that’s not money.)
Recently, Pamplona Municipality Mayor Janice Degamo, widow of slain Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, accused Teves of owning gambling businesses such as e-sabong and STL.
During a Senate inquiry, she said her husband would probably still be alive if the upper chamber and other government agencies had acted promptly on the late governor’s plea for help in stopping the allegedly worsening violence in Negros Oriental.
The mayor likewise claimed that the governor – although holding the highest position in the province – could not address the violent incidents because “the gambling lord has more money than the provincial government has allotted for intelligence.”
“You may be the person holding the highest post [in the province], but financially, you’re miles behind from them. You’re just loose change to them,” she said.
“We are faced with a giant opponent with money fueled by e-sabong, fueled by STL and even fueled by, maybe, illegal drugs,” she also said.
Gov’t execs want Arnie Teves dead?
In the same television interview, Teves claimed anew that two high-ranking government officials wanted him killed. He did not name the government officials.
According to the congressman, the directive to kill him stemmed from the desire of the people behind the supposed plot against him to monopolize the e-sabong business.
He claimed that e-sabong venture of the government officials did not succeed, and they are now blaming him for it.
“Ang balak pala nila, dahil sa marisol ng mga kalaban ko sa politika, at ito rin, may ka-partner din sila jueteng lord, gusto nila ma solo ‘yung negsoyo ng e-sabong,” he said.
(Reportedly, their plan is, because of the gossip of my political rivals, and this too, they have a partner who is a jueteng lord, they want to have the e-sabong business on their own.)
Teves’ whereabouts remain a mystery as he repeatedly refused to heed calls for him to return to the Philippines despite a lapsed authority to travel for medical reasons.
Teves was being tagged as among the masterminds in the assassination of governor Degamo last March 4. The gun attack inside the residential compound of the Degamos in Pamplona town also killed eight other people.