National Police in the Philippines want E-Sabong to be officially labelled as illegal gambling
Cockfighting is still permitted in the Philippines. However, e-sabong, or internet betting on fights, was banned last year. Former President Rodrigo Duterte banned the practise just before leaving office, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) now wants to clarify its status.
Last December, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., the Philippines' new president, stated that e-sabong has no place in the country's gambling environment. However, it was a presidential decree ban with no legal recourse for violators.
The PNP intends to modify this. Law enforcement officials want more information so they know when and how to respond.
More power is required.
Despite the edict, e-sabong is still practised in the Philippines. The majority of the wagering is aimed at illicit cockfights rather than the sanctioned battles held in a few venues across the country.
Even today, illegal fight organisers broadcast fights to tens of thousands of people across the country. Many of those who tune in do so solely to place bets, understanding that everything must be kept as private as possible.
However, it is hardly a closely guarded secret. Several local media sites have stated that they are aware of where the clashes are taking place and how the operations are carried out. Locals are even receiving text messages from organisers promoting the fights, while corrupt police officers are paid to look the other way.
General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. of the PNP has had enough. According to the Philippine News Agency, he is ready to lay down the law in a press conference on Monday. He wants e-sabong to be added to the Philippines' national illicit gambling registry so that police can combat the problem.
By including it under the country's anti-gambling legislation, the authorities will have more power to interfere and shut down e-sabong businesses. It would also give the government to entirely restrict offshore websites that provide betting services.
Azurin is the PNP's new chief of police. After becoming office, Marcos appointed him to the job. He might not be there for long, as he submitted a "courtesy resignation" earlier this month. It will only become official if accepted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and he might go as early as April.
E-sabong is still alive and well.
The prohibition on e-sabong drove the activity underground. Illegal battles have shifted to hidden areas deep in the woods and mountains, where they are more difficult to detect.
However, the cops are occasionally fortunate. According to PhilStar Global, the National Bureau of Investigation discovered an illegal fight ring in Quezon City about a week ago. As a result, ten people who managed online betting were arrested.
Some organisations apparently generate up to PHP1 billion (US$18.36 million) per day, and the people who operate them are content with the fights remaining illegal because they get to keep all of the money and do not have to pay any taxes.
By fLEXI tEAM