Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has ordered the Philippine National Police and local government units (LGUs) to stop all online cockfighting games, popularly known as “e-sabong,” nationwide.
“The [Department of the Interior and Local Government] welcomes the President’s decision to stop e-sabong. Government policies must take heed of the pulse of the people. This decision is rooted in a survey reflecting the sentiment of the people. Hindi ito bara-bara na desisyon (This is not a haphazard decision),” Año said in a statement.
The DILG chief, however, clarified that the traditional physical cockfighting games would continue to operate with compliance to minimum public health standards as regulated by LGUs.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a stop to e-sabong, which has been contributing about P640 million a month to government coffers through fees collected by the state-run regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), following the disappearance of more than 30 cockfighters and mounting complaints about its unpleasant repercussions on families and society.
In his weekly public address aired on state television on Monday night, the President said his order was based on the findings of a survey that he ordered Año to conduct regarding the social impact of e-sabong on Filipinos.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go has also expressed his support for the President’s decision to stop online cockfighting or e-sabong operations in the Philippines, saying that the decision was reached after thorough studies where benefits of online cockfighting cannot outweigh the social harm it causes
Go believes Duterte’s move is in the best interests of the Filipino people, adding that e-sabong operations can be harmful to Filipino families due to the social issues that comes with it such as gambling and its recent impact on peace and order.
When asked if the viral story of a mother from Pasig City pawning her eight-month-old daughter for PhP45,000 to pay her debt in e-sabong was a factor to Duterte’s decision, Go said that it may have influenced it as he himself expressed dismay over the incident.
“Isipin mo pati anak mo ibebenta mo para lang makapagsugal. Mahirap naman ‘yon. Tayo nga pinaghirapan natin ang anak natin, palakihin natin habang nasa tiyan ng nanay ‘yan, pinapalaki, pinapakain mo, pinagsisikapang mayroon kayong maipangtustos para lumaki ‘yung anak mo. Go said.
E-sabong operations have also come under fire following the reported disappearance of sabungeros (cockfight bettors/watchers). This has led to a Senate resolution, which Go signed, asking the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation to freeze the e-sabong licenses it had awarded until the cases are resolved.
Go also asked the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, and other concerned agencies to act on the matter and resolve the cases immediately.
In the meantime, Go urged his fellow lawmakers to look into ways on how to regulate similar gambling activities to ensure that its negative social impacts are addressed.