Reopening of cockpits ‘will do away’ e-sabong – Tolentino

Reopening of cockpits ‘will do away’ e-sabong – Tolentino

Senator Francis ‘Tol’ N. Tolentino said that allowing the reopening of cockpits nationwide will gradually put an end to the operations of online sabong in the country.

Tolentino made the remarks on Tuesday in a speech before members of the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines during their First Quarter Regular National Executive Board Meeting held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City.

Tolentino believed that allowing the resumption of traditional local cock derbies will somehow lure gamblers away from betting online–in which the betting platform being used is usually attached with their respective bank accounts.

“I raise this issue, because if you will now allow the operations of your local cockpits, at hindi po tupada kundi po sabungan, it will do away with operations little by little of online sabong,” said Tolentino.

The senator noted that unlike the traditional cockfighting which has cultural significance and dates back during the pre-colonial period, the e-sabong business has led to various ‘deleterious effects’ in the society, as the Senate continuous with its ongoing probe over the mysterious disappearances of close to three-dozen game fowl enthusiasts along the vicinity of arenas being used in online sabong operations.

Tolentino explained that since most of the areas in the country are now placed under Alert Level 1, members of the Vice Mayors’ League–being head of their respective city/municipal councils–can ask the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to clarify if traditional cockfights can now resume following the recent relaxation of COVID-19 health protocols.

“With almost the entire country under alert level 1, can the vice mayors–Sangguniang Pambayan, Sangguniang Panlungsod–now issue a resumption license to all cockpits nationwide? Siguro po iyan ang tatanungin natin sa IATF,” said Tolentino.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government also stressed that should traditional cockfighting be finally allowed by IATF, the operators as well as the respective local government units (LGUs) where the cockfight arenas are located must ensure the strict implementation of minimum-standard health protocols to avert another surge in COVID-19 infections.

Tolentino added that game fowl tournaments must be done only on a weekend basis and within a specified operating hours.

The local council–which is headed by the vice mayor–of every city and municipality is the one tasked with granting permits to operate to licensed cockfighting operators in their respective localities. But unlike traditional cockfight derbies, LGUs have little discretion on e-sabong operations, since its being solely handled at present by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Last week, Tolentino questioned the supposed legal authority of PAGCOR to grant e-sabong operators license to operate, since “games of numbers” like cockfighting are not included in the supposed mandate covered by the country’s gambling regulatory body under Presidential Decree No. 1869 and as amended by Republic Act No. 9487.

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