Marcos spokesman Vic Rodriguez has hinted that the incoming administration of presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. may put a stop to online cockfighting, popularly known as e-sabong, permanently. The spokesman has stated that Marcos Jr. is not keen on having the addictive e-sabong as a source of revenue.
He added, “Not just for e-sabong but for any industry, even if the potential revenue is really enticing, if it will compromise the moral fiber of the youth, if it will compromise the value of the Filipino family, president Bongbong is more than willing to let go of that very lucrative source.”
In early May, President Duterte ordered the immediate cessation of e-sabong operations in the Philippines, saying that the PHP 640 million revenue collected from the industry is “not worth the social damage caused by the gambling activity.”
Rodriguez’s remarks were made in response to a question raised at a press conference, asking if the incoming administration would allow e-sabong operations to raise billions for government funding. The funds are needed to pay the Philippines’ foreign debt which has skyrocketed to a record-high of PHP 12.68 trillion as of March 2022. Earlier, the House of Representatives tax panel had said that the Philippine government needs to raise PHP 326 billion in fresh revenues yearly to pay off the country’s ballooning debt.
When asked how the Marcos administration plans to address the e-sabong problem, Rodriguez stated that they would like to wait until the administration has settled in office before laying down plans in detail. “I’m sure you understand that the present dispensation is still being led by President Duterte, so with all due respect and deference to the President… let us first wait for the official assumption of Bongbong Marcos as president. For now, let’s support the current administration,” he said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has also begun its investigation and case against the individuals behind illegal e-sabong operations. PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said that they have identified at least six e-sabong websites that continue to operate despite the order to cease any operations of online cockfighting.
The PNP, along with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Anti-Cybercime Group (ACG), are conducting investigations to unmask the illegal e-sabong operators. Investigating agencies are also looking into whether the operators were given permits by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), which has jurisdiction over gambling operations in the country.
In an interview, PNP Directorate for Operations head Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon said that they are planning to submit a position paper to have the operators of e-sabong sites blacklisted. “If the time comes that these will have legitimate operations, they could no longer apply or their application will be denied,” he stated. The PNP also plans on holding a meeting with telecommunications companies to ask in aiding their efforts to stop the operation of online cockfighting websites.