Senator Francis ‘Tol’ N. Tolentino lauded President Rodrigo Duterte following his decision over the termination of online cockfighting operations in the country.
“It’s a strong statement. The President’s decision to finally put an end over the operations of e-sabong is a testament of his political will in ensuring the welfare of the public,” said Tolentino.
In his pre-recorded ‘Talk to the Nation’ that was aired on Tuesday, the chief executive announced that the operations of e-sabong will cease by evening of May 3 following the recommendation made by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año amid the ongoing investigation over the reported mysterious disappearances of more or less 40 cock fighting aficionados in the last 18 months.
Tolentino together with Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chair Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa earlier spearheaded a series of parallel inquiry over the missing ‘sabongeros,’ in which the Senate investigation bared various loopholes in the operations of online sabong.
The senator is firm with his observation that a law must be legislated first before allowing e-sabong operators to conduct business and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has no authority to regulate e-sabong, despite securing separate legal opinions from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General.
“The bases of PAGCOR are mere opinions of the Secretary of Justice and the Solicitor General–a mere executive opinion–given by the Executive Department. Now the head of the Executive Department–the chief executive, the President himself has decided–in effect is an implied reversal of these legal opinions,” said Tolentino.
Tolentino earlier stressed that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and PAGCOR also failed to withhold the 20-percent tax from the winning profits of online sabong operations since the virtual cockfighting industry began sometime during the second quarter of 2020, unlike those being collected from other number games like sweepstakes, horse racing, and lotto.