(File photo)

MANILA – The Senate has managed to help stop online cockfighting (e-sabong) without legislation and save more Filipinos from being addicted to it.

Senator Francis Tolentino said they agree with Malacañang’s view that widespread betting is an erosion of Filipino values while thanking the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for a Memorandum Circular that ordered all BSP-Supervised Financial Institutions (BSFIs) to remove e-sabong features in e-wallets, such as GCash and PayMaya.

Tolentino said even if operators or bettors go underground, they cannot bet through Gcash and Paymaya anymore.

"Ang ibig sabihin po nito, matitigil na totally ang e-sabong at kagaya po ng minumungkahi ko, ay ang dapat magpatuloy ay yung tradisyunal na sabong na lang na tuwing Sabado at Linggo lang, at hindi po 24/7 (This means that e-sabong will totally stop and like I suggested, only the traditional sabong should continue every Saturday and Sunday, and not 24/7)," Tolentino said in an interview over radio station DZRH on Saturday.

In his letter to BSP dated May 6, Tolentino suggested removing all e-sabong features from electronic money issuer platforms as an adherence to the May 3 announcement of President Rodrigo Duterte to stop e-sabong operations nationwide.

"In so doing, this would completely cut the supply link between e-sabong operators and bettors for the protection of the public from this social ill," he wrote.

Under Memorandum Circular 2022-026 released Friday, BSFIs can only deal with gambling or online gaming businesses that are allowed by the government.

The BSP also directed BSFIs to inform their clients who still have remaining funds in their e-sabong accounts to transfer them back to their e-wallets within 30 days from the issuance of the memorandum, after which links to all e-sabong accounts and e-wallets, including e-sabong merchant operator accounts, will be disabled.

DISABLED. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has directed banks and financial institutions to stop facilitating online cockfighting (e-sabong) transactions in a memorandum circular released on Friday (May 27, 2022). The memo follows the order of President Rodrigo Duterte on May 4 to suspend all operations of the gambling activity. (Screenshot)

Tolentino reiterated a statement of incoming president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. that family values come first before e-sabong.

"Magka-ugnay ang aming layunin dito na i-promote muna natin, isulong natin 'yung likas na karakter ng Pilipino. Dapat maging masipag. Hindi ka umasa na lang sa sugal, na dapat mag sarili kang sikap para umunlad ka (Our purpose here is connected, which is to promote and advance the natural character of the Filipino. We should work hard and not depend on gambling. Strive on our own to prosper)," he said.

Senator Ronald dela Rosa, chair of the Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee that conducted hearings on e-sabong and the missing aficionados, previously said a law must be crafted to strictly regulate the sport. (PNA)