MANILA, Philippines —The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has the authority under its charter to act on its own on the recommendation of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs to suspend the operations of e-sabong or online cockfighting, said Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
With this authority, Sotto said the Pagcor could temporarily discontinue e-sabong games while the Senate panel is still investigating the case of the 34 missing sabungeros or cockfighters, and while lawmakers and the executive come up with legislative corrections to plug the loopholes in the management of online cockfighting.
The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs has already held two hearings on the issue, and it was during the first hearing that the Senate issued a resolution urging Pagcor to suspend e-sabong operations and licenses, which a representative from the agency initially supported.
Sotto clarified the Senate was merely asking for a suspension of e-sabong licenses, not their revocation.
“Ako ay nalulungkot na dinala pa sa Presidente ang usapin. So, ano ang rekomendasyon nila? Pagcor indecision could be due to the fact that it earns P640 million a month from e-sabong operations.” Sotto said.
“The disappointment of the Senate cannot be compared to the disappointment and anxiety of the families affected,” the Senate President added.
No less than Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for a comprehensive investigation into the case of at least 34 missing e-sabong players by the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation.
Go said that law enforcement should have been more proactive in dealing with the matter of the missing sabungeros, and asked them to solve the case as soon as possible.
“Isa pa lang may nangyaring problema dapat inimbestigahan na. trabaho po ito ng mga pulis, ng NBI, law enforcers, dapat mabigyan ng solusyon ito dahil buhay po nang nawala dito,” he added.
In a memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Wednesday, the Palace directed the PNP and the NBI to conduct a “thorough investigation” into the missing sabungeros and submit the result of their findings to the President and the Department of Justice within 30 days.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation was also ordered to investigate alleged e-sabong license infractions. Meanwhile, e-sabong licensees which are not being probed are allowed to continue their operations.
Earlier, Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee Chair Ronald dela Rosa indicated that the missing people included players, “master agents” or recruiters, and drivers whose whereabouts are still unknown.
For the time being, Go said that his priority concern is to ensure the safety of the missing sabungeros and to resolve the case.