Despite ban, ‘e-sabong’ continues to thrive
MANILA, Philippines — More than a year since online cockfighting games were suspended, “e-sabong,” as they are popularly known in the communities, has thrived but has evolved into smaller, more clandestine operations.
In a report, the Philippine National Police said on Tuesday that a total of 1,245 individuals were arrested for engaging in e-sabong from July 1, 2022, to Aug. 15, 2023.
Most of the arrests were made by Central Visayas police with 348, followed by Central Luzon police with 328. The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group also made 200 arrests
Of the figure, 808 cases were being heard by the courts, while 437 cases were pending before the prosecutors.
Of the cases which reached the courts, 322 resulted in a conviction.
Persons involved in e-sabong are currently charged with violation of Presidential Decree No. 1602, the country’s anti-illegal gambling law, (signed in 1978), and PD 449 (Cockfighting Law of 1974).
“The extensive crackdown on e-sabong underscores our unwavering commitment to the rule of law. The significant number of arrests demonstrates that the PNP remains steadfast in maintaining peace and order in our communities. We will continue to relentlessly pursue those who violate the law, ensuring that justice prevails for the betterment of society,” Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr., chief of the PNP, said in a statement.
E-sabong websites blocked
Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos has ordered the PNP to stop e-sabong operations in the country, following orders from President Marcos.
For its part, the PNP-Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) said it was continuously working with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to block existing and emerging e-sabong websites.
According to ACG, they have shut down 1,337 e-sabong websites from June last year to August this year.
“Eradicating e-sabong operations from the digital realm is our resolute objective. Our daily cyberpatrols and collaboration with NTC have resulted in the identification and dismantling of multiple e-sabong websites,” ACG director Brig. Gen. Sidney Hernia said.
The ACG had admitted difficulty in going after e-sabong operations, since their operators, or master agents, have ceased live streaming their games to a larger audience, but only to a select group of gamblers who were screened before giving them access to these websites.