The fight against illegal gambling has brought Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Rodolfo Azurin, Jr to recommend that eSabong (online cockfighting) be included on the list of illegal gambling activities that are mentioned under the Presidential Decree 1602 — the Philippines’ anti-illegal gambling law.
The press briefing held on the 30th of January at Azurin discussed that the Anti-Cybercrime Group has recommended this move after it consulted with Congress. They have since proposed sanctions against service providers that will fail to block e-Sabong websites.
“It should be noted that e-Sabong websites hosted outside the Philippines can only be blocked, not taken down, as these sites can continue to operate via a virtual private network. The PNP is having a hard time curbing e-Sabong because of the technological aspect. It’s a battle of technology. Some people engaged in e-Sabong are well-financed and their resources are overwhelming so I think the government should also start beefing up or strengthening its cyber capability,” he said.
Azurin assured everyone that they will continue to work with government agencies linked to information and communications technology in tackling the e-Sabong menace.
“As a matter of fact, even the DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology), NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) have been very visible, very cooperative. They are helping us in running after e-Sabong operators,” he said.
Strength of Executive Order 9 issued by PBBM
EO 9 issued in December 2022 reiterated the continued suspension of live streaming or broadcasting of live cockfights outside cockpits or cockfighting arenas or premises where cockfights are being held.
The decree also included suspension of online/remote, or off-cockpit wagering/betting on live cockfighting matches and/or activities streamed or broadcast live, regardless of the location of the betting platform.
It’s important to also mention that the operations of traditional cockfights authorized or licensed under existing laws shall not be covered by the suspension.
EO 9 also assigned the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to coordinate with local government units, other concerned government agencies and private entities on the implementation of the order.
Total of 28 eSabong arrested
There have since been 28 people arrested in Mandaluyong City, Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu and Santiago City, Isabela in compliance with EO 9 revealed Azurin.
He further added that there were 102 platforms catering to e-Sabong that has since been blocked or taken down. There were also 76 other platforms deleted or deactivated while 39 e-Sabong websites and a Facebook page have been rendered inactive and out of service.
He digressed, “Representations have been made with the DICT and NTC to take down five active websites that continue to host e-Sabong games. The PNP is closely monitoring 272 platforms, comprising 146 websites, 67 Facebook accounts, 31 Facebook groups, 18 Facebook pages and 10 mobile applications used in e-Sabong activities.”
There was a verbal order made by former President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2022 ordering the suspension of e-Sabong operations when 34 e-Sabong aficionados in the country went missing and still remain as so to the present day.
Currently, the bigger operators of eSabong stopped operations but there are still a number of small groups and individuals who continue to use online platforms for cockfighting betting.
The latest count that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group have filed cases against is at least 15 personalities who are connected to the missing e-Sabong enthusiasts.
Fully agree and support actions to get the eSabong industry as clean as possible before even thinking of getting started again on the possibility of having this available. Crimes connected to eSabong have been mind-bogglingly widespread and the criminals are seemingly fearless to commit their deeds. Any input on this, guys? Would you have eSabong available again when the environment to do so is finally a good place? Just comment down below. We welcome your reactions, inputs and insights. Thanks!