MANILA, Philippines — In the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte's directive, the Philippine National Police vowed to step up its efforts to curb the ongoing operations of online cockfight betting after the country's gaming regulator flagged a number of sites running illegally.
At a press briefing Monday morning, Police Col. Jean Fajardo, PNP spokesperson, disclosed that the PNP was already building up cases against a number of suspected e-sabong operators. The focus of the PNP as of the moment, she said, is online-based betting sites being run in residential areas.
"So far we have not monitored any betting stations that are operating," she said.
"According to the Anti-Cybercrime Group, it will take at least two weeks to take down these illegal e-sabong sites," she also said, pointing out that the government's agreement with social media sites to take down illegal content did not include e-sabong platforms.
As it stands, the memorandum of agreement only covers terrorism and child pornography being run on social media platforms, Fajardo said, which caused the delay in the PNP's investigations.
"Usually they take down the content immediately, but since e-sabong isn't included, it will take at least two weeks."
According to Fajardo, PNP field commanders are also conducting random inspections to check if police personnel are engaging in e-sabong, while other cops who were already caught engaging in the practice were already facing both administrative and criminal cases being prepared against them.
"We've also dismissed police, particularly the ones who were caught holding people up because of their addictions to e-sabong," she said in mixed Filipino and English.
Fajardo added that the 34 missing sabungeros reported earlier had not increased in number since then, per data from the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
This also comes after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. said the bureau monitored a number of online sabong websites still running illegally despite Duterte’s directive.
Pagcor e-gaming licensing and regulation vice president Jose Tria said earlier that they monitored the online sabong websites pinassabong.live, pclive1.com, sabong-express.net, phbetting.live, goperya.com, phbet44.bet, phbet.bet and phbetr.bet.
To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this month said that the revenue collected by the government from e-sabong operations was not worth what he said was the "social damage" caused by these activities.
"We should not permit guerrilla-style activities of e-sabong by unscrupulous individuals and groups,” Police Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, director of the Philippine National Police’s Directorate for Operations also said in a statement.
— Franco Luna with a report from The STAR