DILG urges Facebook to remove illegal e-sabong pages

DILG urges Facebook to remove illegal e-sabong pages
Television showing feeds of cockfight events.
Philstar.com / Irish Lising

MANILA, Philippines —  The Department of the Interior and Local Government called on Meta, the parent company of social media platform Facebook to block several FB pages or accounts catering to illegal e-sabong operations, including those in its social media affiliates or subsidiaries

In a statement, the department said that DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya wrote Facebook requesting them to block several pages, groups, and accounts encouraging people to play illegal e-sabong in all of its social media affiliates or subsidiaries. Malaya said he submitted to Meta Platforms, Inc. the list of seven Facebook pages, groups, and accounts identified by the PNP Anti-Cyber Crime Group as catering to illegal e-sabong.

In his letter to Meta, Facebook’s parent organization, Malaya asked the company to automatically ban from the Facebook platform and its affiliates and subsidiaries all Facebook pages, links and the like that operate or encourage people to do illegal e-sabong. 

“We look forward to a fruitful cooperation, coordination, and collaboration on this matter in order to fully implement the ban on illegal e-sabong,” he said. 

“We hope that Facebook will immediately suspend or block pages devoted to illegal sabong as fast as they suspend pages that allegedly violate their community standards. I presume that engaging in illegal activities is a violation of FB’s standards."

He was taking a subtle jab at the website's flagging of red-tagging posts from state-run media Philippine News Agency and Radyo Pilipinas and even National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.'s claiming supposed communist infiltration of Congress.

READ: Facebook says 'automation system'—not fact-checkers—flagged PNA posts

DILG thanks BSP order to remove e-sabong from e-wallet apps

The department also thanked the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for heeding the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to stop e-sabong operations in the country by immediately ordering its bank-supervised financial institutions to remove all e-sabong operators from the list of merchants in their respective online applications.

Año said the BSP, through BSP Memorandum Circular 2022-026 released on May 27, 2022, directed BSFIs to only deal with gambling or online gaming businesses that are authorized by the government. 

"The BSP directive to remove e-sabong from the list of those that can be paid in e-wallets such as G-Cash and PayMaya is a big help. Thank you, BSP, for acting quickly and responding to the President's order,” he said in Filipino.

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.

“This means that even if operators or bettors go underground, they cannot bet through Gcash and Paymaya anymore,” said Año. "With the help of our fellow government agencies, we can also put an end to the harmful e-sabong that has already damaged many families in our country."

During his May 2 Talk to the People program aired on May 3, Duterte ordered a stop to all e-sabong operations, pointing to what he said was e-sabong’s deleterious social impact, including gambling addiction and the disappearance of several cockfighting enthusiasts.

Per data from the National Capital Region Police Officer, a total of 123 operations conducted from May 1–15 against illegal gambling led to the arrest of 370 individuals and confiscation of 107,455 gambling materials and paraphernalia.

Pagcor e-gaming licensing and regulation vice president Jose Tria said earlier that they monitored a number of online sabong websites including pinassabong.live, pclive1.com, sabong-express.net, phbetting.live, goperya.com, phbet44.bet, phbet.bet and phbetr.bet.

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