Philippines Doubles Down Efforts to Eliminate Illegal E-Sabong

Just a few weeks after the Philippines ordered a shutdown of all e-sabong venues across the country, crackdowns are already on the way. The Philippines had a thriving black market cock fighting scene even before things were legalized, and crime continued to permeate the “sport” as e-sabong was briefly made legal over the course of a year. Now, without a regulated framework in place, e-sabong seems to be proliferating on the black market once again, but not for long if the Philippine authorities have something to say about it.

Taking the Fight to Criminals

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation or PAGCOR suspended the license of such venues and is now acting quickly in collaboration with the Philippine National Police or PNP. The first step is to analyze the websites, social media pages, and campaigns that may be purposefully sharing information about illegal e-sabong contests and gambling opportunities.

Meanwhile, PNP has already submitted a special report to Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya and expects to elicit a stronger response from the government, as many websites have seemed to skirt the newly-imposed restrictions on the activity and try turning a profit on it instead. PNP has already emphasized that it has its officers engaged in busting such organizations and illegal online gambling operations.

One of the lieutenants participating in the press briefs on the matter, Vicente Danao, assured that people who continue to run illegal e-sabong operations could expect nothing but “severe consequences.” While sabong is legal, e-sabong is the more dangerous activity of the two. It was allowed during the pandemic as the government was struggling to generate revenue from tourism.

Corruption in Police Ranks

Multiple reports about crime surfaced, leading now-former President Rodrigo Duterte, a hardliner on gambling in general, to consider whether he should suspend the activity. It was said that Duterte would do so right away, but it took him a while as he tried to justify the wave of disappearances tied to e-sabong with the strong tax return the budget was generating.

He ultimately ruled against it and ordered it wrapped up. It previously transpired that some police officers had collaborated with hosts of illegal e-sabong which is why lieutenant Danao insisted during a press conference yesterday that police officers must be on the watch out for potential corruption in their own ranks.

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