CIDG files raps vs suspects linked to missing sabungeros

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
CIDG files raps vs suspects linked to missing sabungeros
E-sabong involves remote betting on cockfights.

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police-Crime Investigation and Detection Group said Monday that they filed criminal charges before the justice department against eight suspects and several individuals linked to the disappearances of cockfighting enthusiasts who are now at the center of Senate probes. 

In a statement, PNP said its crime investigation unit filed kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against "eight identified persons and several John Does" on March 18.

The CIDG was able to identify the suspects, citing the statements of witnesses who reportedly saw them load some missing sabungeros into a van parked in the Manila Arena on Jan 13. 

“This is just one of the concrete steps that the CIDG, being tasked to dig deeper on this web of cases, is taking to get into the bottom of this. While there is a spark of national interest about these cases, the PNP is taking evidence-based approach to slowly uncover the truth behind the disappearances,” Police Gen. Dionardo Carlos, PNP chief, said.

"We assure the worried families that the PNP is taking all efforts and initiatives to resolve the cases," he added.

This comes after the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs held hearings on the missing sabungeros linked to e-sabong operations.

Earlier, lawmakers urged the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor)- the regulator of e-sabong- to suspend the licenses of seven e-sabong firms while the probes are ongoing. 

Malacañang, however, allowed the e-sabong industry to continue, but ordered the PNP and National Bureau of Investigations to continue their investigations. 

E-sabong involves the remote wagering on live cockfights.

Police now dealing with eight cases

In a Senate hearing on Monday, Police B.Gen. Eliseo Cruz, CIDG director, said the unit is now dealing with eight cases of disappearances of missing sabungeros, up from the previously reported six cases. 

The number of sabong aficionadoes deemed missing also increased to 34 from 31. 

"There are now eight cases being handled by the CIDG (Crime Investigation and Detection Group) involving 34 reported missing persons engaged in e-sabong within the period of April 18, 2021 to Jan 13, 2022," Eliseo said.

The series of disappearances of sabungeros in Manila, Bulacan, Laguna and Batangas prompted the CIDG to establish a special investigation task group earlier this year to investigate the issue and convict the perpetuators.

The government earns billions in revenues from the e-sabong industry, which is why Duterte earlier said he was not keen on suspending its operations. 

In his recorded "Talk to the People" last week, Duterte said he did not immediately push for the halting of e-sabong because of the income the government gets from allowing these games.

Speaking in the same event, Pagcor Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Domingo said collections from continued e-sabong operations can hit P7.2 billion to P8 billion this year. 

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