MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the immediate termination of e-sabong (online cockfighting) operations in the country.
Duterte's decision was based on the recommendation of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to stop the operations of e-sabong.
"And the recommendation of Secretary Año is to do away with e-sabong. He cited the validation report coming from all sources. So, since it's his recommendation and I agreed with it and it is good, so e-sabong will end by tonight," he said in his taped Talk to the People delivered Monday night but aired Tuesday morning.
Duterte earlier directed Año to conduct a survey on the "social impact" of e-sabong on the Filipino people.
His directive came in the wake of the still unresolved disappearance of some e-sabong aficionados in the country.
One of the findings, Duterte cited, is that aficionados are deprived of sleep because they are getting addicted to online cockfighting.
"It might not be sophisticated, but still, it is a survey," Duterte said. "[It is] loud and very clear to me that it was working against our values."
The mounting calls for the suspension of the multibillion cockfighting industry came following a series of alleged abductions and disappearances of aficionados over the past few months.
Around 23 senators have signed Resolution 996 urging the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) to suspend the license to operate of e-sabong operators and immediately stop all related activities until the cases of 31 missing cockfighting aficionados are resolved.
Duterte earlier rejected calls to suspend e-sabong operations since the government is earning millions of pesos from the betting game.
He instead asked Congress to regulate the operations of e-sabong by issuing a legislative franchise.
Duterte eventually expressed openness to the calls to halt the operations of e-sabong due to the apparent "social problem" involving aficionados and their families.
The government was able to collect around PHP3.69 billion from the gaming operations of eight e-sabong licensees from April to December 2021, according to the data released by Pagcor.
From January to March 15, 2022, there was a collection of around PHP1.37 billion from the operations of seven licensees. (PNA)