The Philippines has enjoyed a return of tourists to its islands and across its casino resorts. However, during the time visitors were gone, the country had to come up with new ways to sustain its public finances and address mounting health bills. One such way was the legalization of e-sabong contests, but this may have backfired at least in part.
E-Sabong Linked to Crime, Action Needed
While the government has acknowledged the receipts from taxable e-sabong revenue have been good, an undeniable problem has come to the fore. E-sabong has been linked to sprawling crime, including the disappearances of people who were somehow involved in these contests. The disappearances, though, have got so bad – with 34 people going missing over the past months – that authorities have now been repeatedly called upon to step in and do something about what appears to be a small epidemic.
Investigators have been led to the houses of police officers complicit in the disappearances and potentially other crimes related to e-sabong contests. According to Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chair Ronald dela Rosa, the police has so far done little to address the underlying issue. Dela Rosa argues that the National Police, which has been asked by President Rodrigo Duterte himself to step in, needs to keep collecting evidence and get to the bottom of the crime that surrounds the activity.
Sweet Revenue O’ Mine Stops Tough Actions on E-Sabong
Three policemen from the Calabarzon administrative region were apprehended and may have something to do with the disappearance of a “master agent.” Corruption seems to be behind much of the disappearances as well. The National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has confirmed that it continues to collect evidence in a bid to see if all of the disappearances are linked as feared by industry observers.
In the meantime, President Duterte has briefly floated the idea of acting tougher on e-sabong but he quickly decided to backtrack, arguing through a spokesperson that e-sabong will happen anyway. It’s in the Philippines’ best interest if this happened above ground and in a regulated environment. In the meantime, the police continue to collect evidence against wrongdoers.