While llegal online operations of cockfights remain rampant and unabated, the country’s enforcers of COVID-19 health protocols have kept a closed eye on the petition of legitimate industry stakeholders to operate legally and safely, its group said.
The more than 10,000-member International Federation of Gamefowl Breeders’ Association (FIGBA) issued the statement Wednesday over what it called as ‘apathetic and coldhearted’ treatment of the IATF on its plea to resume its sports events called locally as ‘sabong.’
“Lahat na government agencies na nilapitan ng FIGBA para makonsidera ang aming proposal para sa pagbukas ng mga derby, tulad ng NEDA, Games and Amusement Board, DILG at mga lokal na pamahalaan, ay palaging itinuturo ang IATF na siya lang umano ang pwedeng mag-aprub sa aming kahilingan,” said Ricardo Palmares, Jr., the federation president.
Palmares stressed that FIGBA’s petition for the resumption of its gamefowl derbies has outlined a comprehensive adaption of and conform with the maximum standard of the IATF’s health protocols, like retrofitting of and modular setting in cockpit arenas for physical distancing, wash and alcohol areas in derby sites, and the strict observance of wearing face masks and face shields.
“FIGBA and some lawmakers who are sympathetic to our plight, like Reps. Sonny Lagon and Joseph Bernos, have also appealed for the imprimatur of President Duterte, to whom we’ve shared the woes of our 42 provincial associations of breeders and the economic paralysis gripping the P75-biilion gamefowl industry in this more than 6 months of COVID-19 pandemic, but until now we are still in limbo," stressed Palmares.
Local gamefowl breeders, for their part, took a swipe at what they described as ‘intentional neglect’ by law enforcers to curb the prevalence of illegal online ‘sabong’ and their 'obvious display' of alleged favor to its operators, whom they accused of undermining the survival of the gamefowl industry by offering an inconsiderate and insignificant amount for the fighting birds.
“Nagtataka kaming mga lehitimo at law-abiding breeders na naghihintay at sumusunod sa utos ng IATF kung bakit nakapikit ang kanilang mga mata sa laganap na illegal online sabong na araw-araw naglalaban nang walang pagkilala sa health protocols at walang ambag na buwis sa ating gobyerno,” lamented an officer of a local breeders’ association in Central Luzon, who asked for anonymity.
This officer also criticized the inaction of the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to contain such illegal activities.
Earlier, the gamefowl industry -- which counts a million of direct and indirect beneficiaries and has never bothered the government for any social amelioration or financial assistance since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March -- appealed for the President’s approval to resume its 'sabong' events after the IATF reportedly ignored its petition.
Addressing President Duterte in his appeal for understanding, Palmares said he would "assure His Excellency and the health authorities that even if COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, the more than 10,000 breeders joining FIGBA derbies will still be required to observe the maximum health protocols imposed by the government."