PNP vows to continue probe of missing ‘sabungero’ case
MANILA, Philippines — Despite the change in police leadership, Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr., chief of the Philippine National Police, assured the public and families of the missing cockfighting enthusiasts, or sabungero, that their investigation on their cases would continue until all the suspects are arrested.
In a radio interview on Tuesday, Acorda said he had met with the director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to give an account on the updates on the case.
“We have discussed [developments] on our tracker teams, and they said they will be conducting regular meetings to make sure that the case will not be neglected,” he added.
“We will not stop until justice is served for the victims and their families. We have identified the suspects and the court issued warrants of arrests against them. We urge the suspects to surrender peacefully and face the charges because the PNP will not stop until they are all accounted for,” Acorda said.
In a statement on Monday, Col. Redrico Maranan, chief of the PNP public information office, said a warrant of arrest has been issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) against six security guards— Julie Patidongan, Gleer Codilla, Mark Carlo Zabala, Virgilio Bayog, Johnry Consolacion and Roberto Matillano Jr.—for kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
The six suspects are being linked to the abduction of six of the 34 sabungero declared missing since early last year, namely Marlon Baccay, James Baccay, Mark Joseph Velasco, Rondel Cristorum, Rowel Gomez and John Claude Inonog.
They were last seen in public at a cockfight in the Manila Arena on Jan. 13, 2021.
The Department of Justice offered a P6-million reward for any information leading to their arrest.
Both the PNP-CIDG and the National Bureau of Investigation are separately investigating cases of the missing “e-sabong” operators and aficionados, most of whom are believed to have been abducted from cockfighting arenas in Manila, Laguna and Batangas in 2021.
Their disappearance, which was the subject of a Senate investigation last year, prompted a nationwide suspension of the online cockfighting games.
Of the eight cases handled by the CIDG’s “Special Investigation Task Group Sabungero,” two have resulted in arrest warrants being issued by the court.
The San Pablo City RTC last month began hearing the kidnapping and serious illegal detention cases against three former police officers, Cpl. Roy Navarette, Pat. Rigel Brosas and Cpl. Daryl Paghangaan.
They were accused of abducting e-sabong “master agent” Ricardo “Jonjon” Lasco at his San Pablo residence on Aug. 30, 2021.