PNP working to take down e-sabong websites, platforms

Agence France-Presse
PNP working to take down e-sabong websites, platforms
E-sabong involves remote betting on cockfights.

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police has reached out to the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the National Telecommunications Commission to take down websites engaged in e-sabong, or the remote betting on cockfights, that the government suspended in May 2022.

Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, Police Gen. Rodolfo Azurin said the PNP is targeting five "active websites that continue to host e-sabong games." 

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. issued Executive Order No. 9 last December directing the continued suspension of e-sabong operations in the Philippines. The NTC has, in the past, issued orders to Internet Service Providers to block websites although freedom of expression advocates have raised that this should be done through court orders.

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102 e-sabong 'platforms' blocked

The government has so far blocked or taken down 102 e-sabong platforms and have had 76 others either deleted or deactivated.

"Thirty-nine e-sabong websites and a Facebook page have been rendered inactive and out of service," the PNP chief said.

At the same briefing, Azurin said that the police Anti-Cybercrime Group is pushing for the inclusion of e-sabong as a form of illegal gambling under Presidential Decree No. 1602.

Marcos' EO No. 9 cites the Cockfighting Law of 1974, which regulates cockfighting and holds that it "shall be allowed only in licensed cockpits during Sundays and legal holidays and during local fiestas for not more than three days."

The PNP is also monitoring 272 e-sabong platforms, which the national police chief said include 146 websites, 31 Facebook groups, 67 Facebook accounts, 18 Facebook pages and 10 mobile betting apps, for further action.

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Police have arrested 28 in operations in Mandaluyong in Metro Manila, Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu and Santiago City in Isabela against e-sabong, which gained popularity during the pandemic and with the increased adoption of cash transfer apps. 

Azurin said e-sabong puts Filipinos at risk of financial hardship, adding many bettors have found themselves in debt because of online betting. — Jonathan de Santos

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