The Philippine National Police (PNP) eyes the inclusion of e-sabong (online cockfighting) in the list of illegal gambling activities punishable under Presidential Decree 1602, the country’s anti-illegal gambling law.
Meanwhile, PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said some of the high-ranking police officials who submitted their courtesy resignations were among those suspected of complicity in the illegal drugs trade.
In a press briefing at Camp Crame, Azurin said the Anti-Cybercrime Group has recommended to Congress the inclusion of e-sabong in the roster of prohibited gambling activities, with suggested sanctions on internet service providers who would fail to block e-sabong websites.
“It should be noted that e-sabong websites hosted outside the Philippines can only be blocked, not taken down, as these sites can continue to operate via a virtual private network. The PNP is having a hard time curbing e-sabong because of the technological aspect. It’s a battle of technology. Some people engaged in e-sabong are well-financed and their resources are overwhelming so I think the government should also start beefing up or strengthening its cyber capability,” Azurin told reporters.
He also disclosed that collaboration efforts were underway with government agencies involved in information and communications technology in a bid to totally eradicate e-sabong.
“As a matter of fact, even the DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology), the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) have been very visible, very cooperative. They are helping us in running after e-sabong operators,” Azurin said.
President Marcos issued last December Executive Order (EO) No. 9 sustaining the suspension of the live streaming or broadcasting of live cockfights cockpits.
The order also suspends online remote, or off-cockpit betting on live cockfighting matches, including activities broadcast live, regardless of the location of the betting platform.
The presidential directive did not cover operations of traditional cockfights authorized or licensed under existing laws.
EO 9 also directed the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) to coordinate with local government units, other concerned government agencies and private entities on the implementation of the order.
Azurin said 28 people have been arrested so far in Mandaluyong City, Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu and Santiago City, Isabela in compliance with EO 9.
He said 102 platforms catering to e-sabong have been either blocked or taken down, 76 other platforms were deleted or deactivated while 39 e-sabong websites and a Facebook page have been rendered stricken off the internet.
“Representations have been made with the DICT and NTC to take down five active websites that continue to host e-sabong games. The PNP is closely monitoring 272 platforms, comprising 146 websites, 67 Facebook accounts, 31 Facebook groups, 18 Facebook pages and 10 mobile applications used in e-sabong activities,” the PNP chief said.
In May last year, then President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of e-sabong operations amid the disappearances of at least 34 e-sabong aficionados who all remained missing to date.
Major e-sabong operators closed shops, although a handful of small groups and individuals continued to use the online platform for cockfighting betting.
To date, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has filed cases against at least 15 suspects in connection with the missing sabungeros.
During the same press conference, Azurin said most of the high-ranking Philippine National Police (PNP) officials suspected to have links with the illegal drug trade have submitted their courtesy resignations.
Azurin also said many of those who have yet to submit their courtesy resignations are “retirables.”
However, at least 11 ranking PNP officials have yet to submit their courtesy resignations, but most of them asserted it was unnecessary since they were already due to retire.
“I see it more of a success because sabi ko nga, even ‘yung mga supposedly tinitignan natin na under investigation, they allowed themselves na mag-submit sila ng courtesy resignations,” Azurin added.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos has appealed to senior PNP officials to submit their courtesy resignations as part of the government’s efforts to rid the police force of officers involved in the illegal drug trade.
Abalos said this was “the only way to make a fresh start” in the PNP, as he expressed concern over the involvement of some high ranking police officers in the illegal drug trade.
According to Azurin, 941 generals and full colonels have already submitted their courtesy resignations.
A five-man committee, including Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, will screen the resignations. The National Police Commission will also review the names of police officers whose resignations are accepted.
The concerned officials were given until January 31, Tuesday to submit their resignations.