The Philippine National Police (PNP) has been ordered to conduct a nationwide crackdown on illegal e-sabong activities following reports that many outfits have restarted them in disobedience of President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Usec. and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said in a statement Saturday that Sec. Eduardo M. Año has instructed the PNP Directorate for Operations, the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group and all police units nationwide to put an end to e-sabong operations that apparently emerged after Duterte shut down the PAGCOR-licensed operators.

According to Malaya, reports received by the DILG disclosed that seven e-sabong businesses are operating without franchises or licenses in violation of Duterte’s mandate.

Malaya said that a similar directive was issued to LGUs to stop all e-sabong operations in their areas of jurisdiction. He said that the DILG has also enlisted the help of the Anti-Cybercrime Division of the National Bureau of Investigation to put a stop to these illegal activities.
“These illegal e-Sabong outfits are operating without licenses or franchises from the national or local governments and are not remitting a single peso in revenue to the state,” he added.

Malaya asked the help of the public in putting a stop to these illegal operations. “We urge the public to immediately contact your nearest police station if you know where the studios of these illegal e-Sabong operations are so we can put a stop to it. If you also know who the operators are, please contact your nearest police station or CIDG office.”

He also warned the public that it’s a risk to bet on these on-line platforms because its unregulated and you are never sure if you will be paid your winnings at the end of the day. “Dahil illegal po ito, hindi n’yo po alam kung saan napupunta ang inyong pera or kung may dayaan.”

The DILG, through its regional and field offices, earlier conducted the survey with respondents in every city and municipality across the country. A total of 8,463 respondents answered the online sentiment survey of the DILG from April 19-20, 2022 to gauge public perceptions of e-Sabong and to provide the President with a basis for his decision on the fate of e-Sabong.
Based on the survey results, 62% or a majority of those surveyed want to put a stop to e-Sabong, which became prominent during the community quarantine in the last two years of the pandemic, 34% want it to continue but with tighter regulation while 4% completely supports it.

The reasons cited by the respondents for opposing e-Sabong include addiction to gambling, bankruptcy of players, indebtedness, cost to family, neglect of work and studies, and crime.

“The DILG recommended suspending the operations of e-Sabong until a better set of framework and regulations are formulated, in such a way that it will not significantly harm any of the stakeholders or lead to the moral decay of society. The social cost is just too high,” he said.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)’s Regulatory Framework for Electronic Sabong defines e-Sabong as “an online, remote, or off-site wagering or betting on live cockfighting matches, events, and/or activities streamed or broadcasted live from cockpit arena/s licensed or authorized by the LGUs having jurisdiction thereof.”

“Nakakalungkot sabihing mag-iisang taon na po mula nang mawala ang 31 e-sabong cockfighters. Kaya tama at napapanahon ang pagtigil sa e-sabong. It has become a target of illegal schemes like kidnapping and corruption,” Malaya said.

The DILG spokesperson also pointed out that while only 21 years and above shall be allowed to play e-sabong, the reality is people, regardless of age, have become addicted to the game. Reports from the communities revealed that persons ages 20 and below are able to bet due to laxity in the registration process of e-sabong.

“Nagiging ugat pa ito ng tukso sa mga kabataan o menor de edad na makagawa ng krimen para lang may pangpusta sa e-Sabong. Marami itong repercussion sa ating lipunan kasama na ang mental health issues at ang pagkasira ng mga pamilya. May isa ngang inang napabalitang ibinenta ang kanyang sanggol para may pangpusta. Ganito ito kalala. Panahon na para tuldukan ito,” he said.

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