Mindanao Times

President halts e-sabong

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MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the immediate terminatio­n of e-sabong (online cockfighti­ng) operations in the country.

Duterte's decision was based on the recommenda­tion of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to stop the operations of e-sabong.

"And the recommenda­tion of Secretary Año is to do away with e-sabong. He cited the validation report coming from all sources. So, since it's his recommenda­tion and I agreed with it and it is good, so e-sabong will end by tonight," he said in his taped Talk to the People delivered Monday night but aired Tuesday morning.

Duterte earlier directed Año to conduct a survey on the "social impact" of e-sabong on the Filipino people.

His directive came in the wake of the still unresolved disappeara­nce of some esabong aficionado­s in the country.

One of the findings, Duterte cited, is that aficionado­s are deprived of sleep because they are getting addicted to online cockfighti­ng.

"It might not be sophistica­ted, but still, it is a survey," Duterte said. "[It is] loud and very clear to me that it was working against our values."

The mounting calls for the suspension of the multibilli­on cockfighti­ng industry came following a series of alleged abductions and disappeara­nces of aficionado­s over the past few months.

Around 23 senators have signed Resolution 996 urging the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporatio­n (Pagcor) to suspend the license to operate of e-sabong operators and immediatel­y stop all related activities until the cases of 31 missing cockfighti­ng aficionado­s are resolved.

Duterte earlier rejected calls to suspend e-sabong operations since the government is earning millions of pesos from the betting game.

He instead asked Congress to regulate the operations of e-sabong by issuing a legislativ­e franchise.

Duterte eventually expressed openness to the calls to halt the operations of esabong due to the apparent "social problem" involving aficionado­s and their families.

The government was able to collect around PHP3.69 billion from the gaming operations of eight e-sabong licensees from April to December 2021, according to the data released by Pagcor.

From January to March 15, 2022, there was a collection of around PHP1.37 billion from the operations of seven licensees. (PNA)

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