President Rodrigo Duterte 

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he might be forced to order the suspension of e-sabong (online cockfighting) operations if the situation gets out of hand.

Duterte made the statement in a speech delivered in Lapu-Lapu City, as he took note of more Filipinos getting addicted to online cockfighting.

He said he would not hesitate to halt the operations of e-sabong, if the issues concerning the betting game become “very serious.”

“Just study if it is true or not. It’s getting to be a very serious problem for the Filipino,” Duterte said. “Pag-aralan muna natin then kung totoo ‘yan, hintuin ko ‘tan kung ang problema ibigay lang (if it would only give us trouble).”

This, as he lamented that online cockfighting lure many Filipino families, as well as police officers and minors.

Duterte, however, said the possible suspension of e-sabong operations could not be done in haste because the government is earning millions of pesos from the gaming industry.

“Ang e-sabong, gusto ng mga congressman na ipahinto. Sabi ko bakit ko ipahinto iyan (Congressmen want to stop the operations of e-sabong. Why would I order its suspension)? Ang (The) e-sabong is giving us PHP640 million a month,” he said. “We are short of funds kaya sabi ko, ipatuloy iyan (that’s why I allow the continuation of its operations).”

The disappearance of over 30 cockfight aficionados prompted lawmakers to conduct an inquiry and urged Duterte to stop the operations of e-sabong.

Last month, Philippine National Police chief, Gen. Dionardo Carlos, urged all unit commanders to inspect the gadgets of their subordinates to determine the policemen who are hooked on online cockfighting.

At least three cops tagged in e-sabong abductions are now under restrictive custody at the headquarters of the Police Regional Office - Calabarzon and are set to face charges in the coming days.

To promote “transparency” in e-sabong, Duterte earlier asked Congress to regulate the operations of the betting game by issuing a legislative franchise. (PNA)